After beating the Fernie GhostRiders 6-4 in the first game of the Christmas Classic on home ice to a crowd of enthusiastic fans, they knew the next half of the double header wouldn’t be easy, but they went in with confidence and soundly conquered Fernie 7-3 in their own barn.
The seven goals came from six different players, and it’s becoming more and more evident the team is finding that higher level of cohesion head coach Derek Stuart has been looking for since the start of the season.
“I think when the majority of our players play how we want them and follow the game plan we’re pretty tough to beat,” he said. “Last night a big reason for that is the guys were very good in terms of shift lengths, they weren’t staying out too long and just kept rolling the lines and coming after them with fresh legs and I think it worked out with a lot of guys contributing.”
He said such a high scoring win helps to build confidence among the individual players as well as the team as a whole.
“There was a lot of guys that were maybe sort of struggling offensively that have stepped up in the last two games,” Stuart said. “Jack Karpyshyn is probably the best example of a guy who was kind of struggling to find a spot in the line up before Christmas and right now he’s been playing fantastic. Confidence from all the guys has to be pretty high.”
Following the 6-4 win against Fernie at home on Tuesday, the team acknowledged it needed some work on the power play and the penalty kill. Penalties were plenty on Wednesday night; perhaps to be expected at the Christmas Classic with two rival teams duking it out, but also because Fernie got more and more frustrated as the game got away from them.
“I think a lot of penalties can be expected in a way, but I think it was also evident that [Fernie] got very frustrated,” Stuart said. “We controlled the game and they didn’t have much say in what they did. So I think they got frustrated pretty easily and then in the third it kind of just boiled over.
“It was obvious from the start of the third they weren’t interested in playing hockey anymore, I’m kind of surprised it took that long for something to boil over.”
He added that his players’ penalty kill was looking better than it did the game before, but still needs some work, however the Nitros did a fantastic job on the power plays.
After a hectic first week back following the Christmas break, with two games after one practice, the team now has a chance to get two practices in before their next game against Golden on Tuesday, Jan. 4.
“We’ve had success against Golden so far this year so I don’t think the guys will have any problems in the confidence department, especially with the way we’re playing,” Stuart said.
The Dynamiters next home game is against Golden on Friday, Jan. 7.