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Dynamiters’ playoff run comes to a heartbreaking end in the first round

First time the Nitros eliminated in first round since 2013/14 playoffs

The Kimberley Dynamiters will not have the opportunity to defend last season’s Teck Cup Championship, following their elimination in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of the Columbia Valley Rockies, who took the series 4-1.

This is the first time in over a decade that the Dynamiters have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, going back to the 2013/14 season when they were knocked out by the Golden Rockets.

The team, particularly its 20-year-old players, were in visible disbelief and understandably emotional as the Rockies celebrated their 4-1 victory at the Civic Centre on Thursday, Feb. 29.

Head coach, GM Derek Stuart told the Bulletin he was at a loss for words for what to say to his team in the locker room following the game.

“I don’t think I’ve been in this situation, definitely haven’t been in this situation here,” he said. “I literally didn’t know what to say.”

The Dynamiters have won their division and been to the conference finals, or finals for the past seven seasons, going back to 2014/15.

“I think over the course of the last 10 years the organization and team should be extremely proud,” Stuart added. “This is uncharted water for us right now, the expectation is to have success in the playoffs and we didn’t. It’s a tough pill to swallow to be honest.”

Columbia Valley took the lead in the first period, with a power-play goal from Bryan Kim. Following a back and forth start to the second period, the Rockies made it 2-0 before Trey Stephenson, who’d been peppering their goal all game, finally put one in.

The wind was quickly taken out of the Nitros’ sails with a goal two minutes later from the Rockies’ Carter Velker. A power-play goal early in the third sealed the Dynamiters’ fate. Despite their best efforts in a late-game surge, the Rockies warded them off, thanks in part to their goaltender Nate Glenn, who stopped 31 shots.

“I think for me our execution was a big factor in why we lost, it was too poor too many times and I also think our power play struggled and that was definitely a factor in us not having success as well,” Stuart said.

“But again, this is all so new, I haven’t even really thought about what went wrong, or what we need to fix, we just need to take this one on the chin here and then get back to work in a couple weeks and prepare to make a run at the trophy.”

Stuart also gave the Rockies credit for their winning performance.

“Our opponent played extremely well,” he said. “They deserved to win the series.”

While it may not feel like much consolation for them at this point in time, this team will have one more chance to play together at the 2024 BC Hockey Junior A Championships, formerly known as the Cyclone Taylor Cup, that will be hosted in Kimberley from April 18 to 21, 2024.

READ MORE: Kimberley to host 2024 BC Hockey Junior A Championships

“It’s a good group,” Stuart said. “We have some learning to do. I enjoy every season, it’s fun to work with these guys and it’s a really good group of young men. There’s some things we need to change and some things we need to fix before the tournament in April, but again I think we’ll get to that down the road once we’ve let this one set in.

“It’s very tough to handle right now to be honest but it’s something that you’ll learn from it and it will keep us humble I guess.”

READ MORE: The 2023/24 Kimberley Dynamiters Awards ceremony

About the Author: Paul Rodgers

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