The Kimberley Dynamiters have taken a 2-0 series lead with a 4-1 win against the Columbia Valley Rockies.
The Nitros were able to jump to an early lead as Brock Palmer scored on the power play.
The Rockies, however, would not go away. They got a power play goal of their own by Tyler Nypower.
After 20 minutes the two teams were tied.
The goaltenders were busy in the second. Rockies’ Ben Kelsch was making another bid for player of the game, and doing everything within his power to help the Rockies get back into the series. Nitro Cody Campbell, was just as solid, as the Rockies were trying to bounce back from Tuesday night’s loss.
Forty minutes of play, and the game was still tied at one.
In the third, the Nitros kept the Rockies hemmed in their zone. As a result the Nitros outshot the Rockies, and the Rockies were called for many penalties, some of them controversial or inconsistent compared to earlier calls.
With the power plays, the Dynamiters’ Palmer began to cash in. He scored at the 15:39 finishing a passing play. He then completed his hattrick with a hard nose, and fearless play, as he dug for a rebound.
“I just want to score goals.” Palmer said about being fearless as a smaller player, “Going to the net is the best place to be.”
It was Palmer’s second hattrick of his KIJHL career, his first of the playoffs.
“It was awesome.” He smiled, and then recounted, “I had to go back and get my stick, and the crowd was all cheering and everything, so it felt pretty good.”
Nicholas Ketola was on the receiving end of a pretty passing play, and with two minutes left, gave the Nitros a huge three goal lead.
Campbell stopped 20 shots earning his sixth win of the playoffs, and Palmer – with the hattrick – was the Home Star of the game, and also recognized as ‘Hot in the KIJHL’.
After the game, neither coach was really impressed with the full 60 minutes.
“It was a pretty ugly hockey game,” Nitro’s head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said, “both teams looked tired. In the third we pushed them a little bit more, speed wise, and made things more difficult on them.”
“There comes a time when you figure out you don’t have your ‘A’ game, tonight our ‘B’ game was good enough to get the job done. At the end of 60 minutes, that is all that matters.”
Rockies head coach Wade Dubielewicz said, “I thought we were OK. Ben Kelsch played an incredible game… I liked our effort, and our physicality a lot better tonight. Last night was a no show for us.”
Both coaches were able to quickly identify an area they need to improve on going into Game Three in Invermere Friday.
“My team is like Jekyll and Hyde.” Dubielewicz said about the Rockies consistency, “When we don’t come to play the way we have to, we are not very good. That’s what you saw last night. When we come to compete and want to be hard to play against, we can play with anyone. If we put everything together, we are a good team.”
For Stuart, he wanted to address the sloppy play, “We need to manage the pucks better, especially in the neutral zone. Tonight was very sloppy, there were a lot of turnovers between our blueline and their blueline.”
The Dynamiters now have a 2-0 series lead on the Rockies with the series going to Invermere for Game Three and Four on Friday and Saturday.
“It is going to get harder and harder going into their rink.” Stuart said “Down two, I assume [The Rockies] are going to come harder than we have seen them yet. It is definitely going to be a difficult task.”
Stuart added, “We need to reset, and take a day off tomorrow (Thursday). We are going to watch video of the last two games we played there, those were two of our better road games this season. I think we will be ready to go.”
As for Dubielewicz, he is aware of the task that the Rockies’ now have, “Now we are down 2-0, behind the eight-ball, we have got to get back to our familiar rink and get back on board.”
“We are not going to look too far forward, but we are definitely a confident group heading home.”
Game Three is Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Invermere’s Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena.
MATCH STICKS: The Nelson Leafs have taken a 2-0 series lead on the Castlegar Rebels with two overtime wins. The Osoyoos Coyotes have a 2-0 series lead on the Kelowna Chiefs. The Revelstoke Grizzlies and 100 Mile House Wranglers have split the first two games.