The Kimberley Dynamiters remain undefeated since the return to play following the Christmas break, adding two more wins to their seven-game winning streak with 6-1 and 5-4 wins over the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.
Saturday’s game wasn’t the Nitros best, admits head coach Derek Stuart, but he suspects they may have been buoyed with confidence following the previous night’s 6-1 win.
“The guys need a reminder that the reason we did so well on Friday was because we worked hard and played our systems and stuck to the gameplay — it wasn’t an easy 6-1 win so I thought perhaps they thought Saturday was going to be a little easier,” Stuart said. “But it was a combination of us not being very good and our opponent was much better than they were on Friday.”
Though they’ve had seven games since December 28, Stuart doesn’t suspect fatigue factored into the team having their closest game of the bunch.
“It could be a little bit of a factor but at the same time when we play like we did in the second period on Saturday, there was no fatigue there so I don’t really think that had too much to do with it,” he said.
The team has been displaying a tremendous amount of growth in their recent games, working well together as a unit, learning from their mistakes and integrating their systems from practice in well. This was demonstrated in Saturday’s game in that, even though they weren’t at their best and the results were closer than they would have liked, they still managed to get the job done and get the win.
“We lost probably two or three of our seven loss games earlier in the year when we were in the same situation but we just didn’t find a way to win, so that is a good sign,” Stuart said. “Good teams win when they’re not necessarily supposed to or don’t play their best, for us to be able to do that now recently, that was probably our worst game since Christmas but at the same time they found a way to win so that’s a good sign.”
Their hard work is evident not just on the ice, but on paper as the Dynamiters now sit atop of the standings of the Eddie Mountain Division.
“It’s a product of them bearing down and really realizing their potential and playing to their potential,” Stuart said..
“Since Christmas we haven’t lost and the guys are playing fantastic hockey right now and we’re getting the results that we need. We’re only one point ahead of Columbia Valley with two games against them so by no means is it wrapped up. It’s going to be a battle here for this last month and a bit but it definitely feels nice to be in first place and we definitely feel like we deserve to be there.”
The Dynamiters have two home games coming up this week: against Golden on Tuesday and against Fernie on Friday.
In their practices ahead of the game, one thing Stuart hopes to improve upon is their starts. In their two games against Creston Valley, for example, the Dynamiters trailed by 1-0 after the first period.
“Our starts to our last three games have not been good and that needs to change, because if you play an elite team and you don’t start well you’re going to be in trouble,” he said.