The Kimberley Dynamiters defeated the Creston Valley Thundercats 7-3 to clinch the series 4-1 and will now take on Columbia Valley on Monday to begin the Eddie Mountain division finals.
Despite a high scoring game, Head Coach Derek Stuart thought his team could have done better.
“We didn’t start good,” Stuart said. “We weren’t very good all night to be honest, but I think the second period we did get a little bit better. I really liked our power play goal and I liked our defensive game in the second, but apart from that we were pretty bad actually.”
Kimberley opened the scoring early in the first period with a goal from Erik Delaire, who then scored again shortly after, resulting in a 2-0 lead at the end of the first.
The Nitros played defensive hockey in the second period and capitalized on the Creston charging penalty with a power-play goal from Daniel Anton.
They went into the third period with a three-goal lead which was extended to four after a quick goal from Ryan Piva. A comfortable buffer it may have felt like, but Creston executed a lightning-quick breakaway and scored their first of the night. They then scored two more back-to-back and all of a sudden it was a 4-3 game.
Creston was obviously motivated by their desire to stay in the playoffs and Kimberley by their desire to end the series and not have to play another road game.
“We wanted to end it tonight for sure, 100 per cent, but I don’t think you could tell that by the way we played,” Stuart said, “A lot of guys didn’t really put in the effort, a lot of passengers tonight to be honest, but we got the job done and if it wasn’t for Erik Delaire’s line, and a couple others I think we might be heading to Creston tomorrow.”
The Dynamiters were able to answer back and a goal from Josh Makarchuk ended the Creston hot streak. Anton scored his second of the night and then Delaire scored his third and celebrated the first hat trick of his career.
“First-ever hat trick,” Delaire said after the game. “I couldn’t have done it without my line mates, Beau Larson he got a couple of assists to help me out, couldn’t have done it without him.”
“Erik was our best player this series, easily our best player this series and it was nice to see him get rewarded with some goals tonight,” Stuart said. “But he was doing every single part of his role: being physical, skating, penalty killing, doing all those things to perfection and tonight he was rewarded with some goals and it’s kind of funny how things work out when you work hard and consistently and you’re ready to go and prepared you get rewarded and Erik’s been great all series.”
Round 2 vs Columbia Valley Rockies
Mon, March 9 @ Kimberley
Tues, March 10 @ Kimberley
Thur, March 12 @ Columbia Valley
Fri, March 13 @ Columbia Valley
*Sun, March 15 @ Kimberley
*Mon, March 16 @ Columbia Valley
*Tues, March 17 @ Kimberley #NitroNation #KIJHL @KIJHL pic.twitter.com/0TKrFUkD5d
— Kimberley Dynamiters (@nitroshockey) March 6, 2020
The game ended with a final score of 7-3 and the Nitros will now get the weekend off to rest before going up against Columbia Valley, who swept Fernie and have had some time to relax, on Monday.
“It gives us the whole weekend off, we don’t have to load the bus and go back to Creston tomorrow and play in that smaller rink and we can get a couple guys who have a few bumps and bruises they can get rested back up and get ready to go when the series starts next week.”
Though Columbia Valley likely got a bit of a confidence boost from winning all their games against Fernie, Delaire said, “We’ll hopefully take that confidence away on Monday.”