It was just one of those weeks for the Kimberley Dynamiters, in which anything that could go wrong, did go wrong, and it unfortunately culminated with two losses over the weekend.
“I’m doing better today than I was Saturday night,” head coach, general manager Derek Stuart told the Bulletin on Monday morning with a wry laugh.
“It was a crazy weekend and a crazy week, with a couple guys quitting early in the week last week, two of our top four defencemen actually. And then the suspensions that came out of Friday’s game and the injuries that came out of Saturday’s game — it was quite the terrible week to be honest with you.”
At the start of the week leading up to the weekend games the Dynamiters lost two of their best defenceman, with Lee Christensen and Max Mills both deciding to quit the team.
Stuart still isn’t quite sure what led Mills to quit, but he said he was a very good defenceman from the very small amount of time he was with the team.
Christensen, however, decided to retire from hockey.
“He was one of our best defencemen, big strong 20 year old,” Stuart said. “He just kind of lost his passion and he’s a very mature young man and he wants to move on and take some firefighting course and I think he’s just mentally so mature, he’s kind of over the junior lifestyle thing.
“I totally understand Lee’s decision and we accepted it and wish him the best of luck.”
Down two defencemen heading into Friday’s action against Fernie, the team’s losses were compounded with three of their top guys, forwards Matt Saretsky and Conner Furukawa and defenceman Adam Kennedy getting two game suspensions.
Saretsky and Kennedy were suspended due to “participating in a Multiple Fight Altercation,” according to the KIJHL website, and Furukawa for being assessed a major penalty for kneeing.
As a result, Stuart also was hit with a one-game suspension for his players participating in a Multiple Fight Altercation.
Fernie would wind up winning Friday’s game 1-0 in an overtime shootout.
That meant the Nitros headed into their home game on Saturday, Oct. 9 against Beaver Valley lacking five players and their head coach and in the very first shift of the game, they lost their captain, as Ryan Bennett took a hit and slid into the boards, breaking his collarbone.
“I think he got pushed or hit cleanly and just either lost his balance or fell awkwardly into the boards and unfortunately he ended up breaking his collar bone, so he’s out for a good eight to 12 weeks,” Stuart said.
Stuart said losing their captain like that really “deflated the team,” and it took them around 10 minutes to get back into the swing of things. They then played well, until goalie Matt Fleet got hurt.
He went down and his teammates called for medical staff to come attend, and they supported his neck until an ambulance got to the arena and carried him out. He suffered a concussion, but Stuart said he spoke with him on Sunday, and said he’s happy to hear he’s okay and that “everything seems to be a lot better than it looked.”
Forward Jack Karpyshan was also taken out of the game with an upper body injury, and it’s uncertain how long he’ll be out.
Trystan Self took Fleet’s place in net, but unfortuately the Dynamiters got a double minor penalty shortly after and Beaver Valley scored twice in rapid succession.
“He’s been fantastic the first three games, one of the best goalies in the league in my opinion,” Stuart said of Self. “But we didn’t do him any favours by giving the double minor power play a minute and a half until he came in for relief either, so after that when they did get those two power play goals, you could tell it was over.”
The Nitros were unable to bounce back, and Beaver Valley took advantage, tacking on several more goals for a final score of 7-2.
“The players had just been through too much emotionally I think, but bottom line is we can’t take a double minor right after that injury and throw our goalie, who is extremely cold, to the wolves like that on the power play for four minutes,” Stuart said.
Heading into their home game against Golden on Friday, the Dynamiters will be shorthanded, but will have the 16 players needed and Stuart says they’ll have Self ready to go in net.
“Definitely no excuses or anything for us not to be competitive Friday and then Saturday night we will have Saretsky, Furukawa and Kennedy back from their suspensions,” Stuart said.
Stuart said that for the lead up to next weekend the plan is to simply treat this week as normal, and carry on as they normally would with the players they have.
“I’m still very confident that we can get the job done if they play the right way. So there’s going to be increased ice time for everyone that’s able to play Friday and then like I said we get those other three guys back on Saturday and that should help us as well.”