The Kimberley Dynamiters have announced their exhibition schedule, beginning on Saturday, Oct. 17 with a road game against the Columbia Valley Rockies; the team the Nitros were battling in the playoffs when the season was shut down due to COVID.
“We’re excited,” said head coach and general manager Derek Stuart. “We were ready to go to Columbia Valley for game three of the division finals last year and it’s kind of funny that their first exhibition game and getting back at it we’re going back to Columbia Valley. The guys are extremely excited to play, I haven’t seen this kind of energy this early in the year before.”
The Dynamiters were defeated by Columbia Valley 2-0, but Stuart isn’t overly concerned.
“I could care less about the results right now, I told the guys that,” he said. “We’re focused on how they play and their actions in the game and implementing our systems and doing some of things we require of them to do. So results right now are irrelevant in our opinion.”
Despite not coming out on top, his team’s performance gave him a lot to be happy about, giving themselves numerous scorring opportunities and playing solid defensively.
“We made a miscue on one of the goals and both goals were from the slot,” Stuart said. “So defensively we were really good actually and I was very happy with the guys first real game in seven months.”
He said the first exhibition game was both a good evaluation and test for the coaches.
“Columbia Valley is an old team and they had 13 team veterans playing and we had five so I think it was a real good test and a good evaluation process for the coaches to be able to see our new guys and our rookies play against a veteran league team.”
The Dynamiters been working hard getting in shape to get back on the ice.
“The team’s doing well,” Stuart said. “We started introducing systems over the past couple weeks and I’m just excited to see obviously the play again and have the guys play again but also to see which players are capable of doing our systems in a game situation too.”
In recent practices the Dynamiters have been working on some fundamentals, according to Stuart.
“Things like stopping at the net and just little things like that that we demand every one of our players do, so again that’s something that we’ll be watching through these exhibition games to see who can do those consistently.”
The team has its exhibition roster set currently. The exhibition season is over Nov. 12 and the regular season commences on Nov. 13.
“I think with the COVID complications and the Junior A’s keeping so many guys until Dec. 1 it could be possible that we have an exhibition team and then have kind of a different looking team come Dec. 1, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
The Dynamiters recently signed on Caron Loftsgard as their skills coach, something Stuart and the team are very excited about.
“He’s a certified Hockey Canada Skills Coach, and not many guys around here have that title or have gone through the work to earn that title so we’re very happy to have Carson running our skills practices once a week here and the guys seem to have benefited from it already and they enjoy it. It’s something that I think will make the players better as individuals.”
Because, due to COVID, people will not be allowed in the stands at the Civic Centre for Nitros games, fans may be wondering how they can keep up with the season. Stuart said that as far as he knows, home teams have the option whether or not they put exhibition games up on webcast.
During regular season games it is mandatory for teams to broadcast their games. The Dynamiters will be doing a test run at their last exhibition game on Nov. 6.
This year the Dynamiters have partnered with HockeyTV, an elite broadcasting company used by most Junior A teams and even some pro leagues.
“I think fans will notice a huge difference in terms of the quality of the broadcast,” Stuart said.
Stuart added the organization will be talking with some of the local pubs to see if they’d be interested in showing some of the games, so if people want to watch but don’t want to get a subscription to HockeyTV, they have that option.
Finally, Stuart said that the team is currently doing okay on the billet home front for the time being. However, if any of their non-local veteran players who are playing Junior A at the moment come back, they’ll need to find more.
“We’re okay right now but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to have some more back up options too,” Stuart said.
After their Saturday game against Columbia Valley on Saturday, Oct. 17 the rest of the exhibition schedule is as follows:
•October 23 at home versus Columbia Valley
•October 24 at home versus Creston
•October 30 against Fernie
•November 1 against Creston
•November 6 against Fernie