The Kimberley Dynamiters season has officially begun, and the team started it off with a bang, giving Columbia Valley a 6-1 drubbing on home ice for the season opener, and then hitting the road and beating Creston 5-2.
The first game, on Friday, Oct. 1, started half an hour later than scheduled due to bus issues and then began with Columbia Valley starting short handed because of a warmup violation. The first goal of the regular season was scored by Conner Furukawa.
Columbia Valley bounced back with a power play goal a few minutes later, but it would prove to be their last of the game as the Nitros continued to pour it on for the remainder.
After a “chaotic” stretch of exhibition games, head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said the team had time to do a little work on some systems before the opening games, namely on the power play and defensive zone, both of which he thought the team did well with in that first game.
“It’s a good sign that they’ve picked it up,” Stuart told the Bulletin post-game. “Again with a lot of guys coming back we got help teaching from them and not too many new guys had to learn the defensive zone and the power play but it was less chaotic than exhibition and there was still moments that you had to remind yourself that it’s October 1 and the first game of the year but for the most part I was pretty happy with the game.”
The organization announced its leadership for the 2021-22 season the night before the season opener with Ryan Bennett coming in as captain, backed by assistant captains Carter Spring, Lee Christensen and Tyler Russell.
Dynamiters are proud to announce this seasons leadership team!
Captain- Ryan Bennett
Assistant- Carter Spring
Assistant- Lee Christensen
Assistant- Tyler Russell
🧨💥KABOOM!!!💥🧨 #NitroNation #KIJHL @KIJHL pic.twitter.com/o6PMzrJM3F
— Kimberley Dynamiters (@nitroshockey) October 1, 2021
“I think for the first part of the season the boys were clicking really well,” Bennett said after his team’s first win of the year. “I think we obviously have a long way to go by the end of the year, but for right now I’m very happy with the performance.”
Stuart echoed that, agreeing that the team showed a great deal of cohesion for this early in the year.
“They seemed to get along really well and they all seem to respect each other and the chemistry from what I can tell seems to be pretty darn good for this time of the year,” Stuart said. “I think the mindset we have is we don’t care who scores or gets our points or makes plays as long as it’s someone on our team and we’re all pulling the same direction so I thought they did a really good job with that.”
Both Stuart and Bennett also agreed that, given the difficulties of the past two years with COVID creating a cloud of uncertainty and empty seats in stadiums at the best of times, and causing the season to shut down at the worst, it was a great thing to be back on home ice with nearly 500 fans in the stands.
“It was fantastic. I think tonight was a great experience, the fans were great, they were loud, there were people with signs and they were extremely loud when we scored,” Stuart said.
“I thought the support was outstanding which is no surprise, the fans are always great, but to see the guys as happy as they were just go get back to play was probably the thrill for me tonight. It’s been a long couple years here, especially for four or five of the guys that have been here with us. So to see them get out there and be able to play and not have to worry about if we’re getting shut down or not tomorrow, it was a real good fun night for us.”
“Last year was a tough one but to bounce back like that first game with fans, it’s huge,” Bennett added.
Bennett said that after the first game the plan was to get some rest and come back the following night in Creston, carrying the momentum and energy from their first win into it, and he proved to be correct and the Nitros started their season with two big wins.
“I think the boys are ready to go and it’s going to be a big year this year,” Bennett said.
Next up the Dynamiters will play Columbia Valley again, this time on their turf on Friday, Oct. 8 and then will face off against the Nelson Leafs at home the next night.