It was a long time coming, but the Kimberley Dynamiters finally found a way to win on the road with a Tuesday-night triumph in Creston Valley.
The 2-1 victory over the Thunder Cats marked the first road victory for the Nitros since a 4-3 decision Oct. 17 in Golden.
“It could have gone either way again. It’s nice to come out on the good side,” said Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks Wednesday afternoon. “But what matters most is I think we’re playing really well. That’s the important thing.
“If you focus on the score, then maybe you give up on the young defencemen you’re trying to develop. That’s the route we choose to go, so you have to be patient and it paid off [Tuesday] night.”
Over a difficult road stretch like what the Dynamiters have battled through in recent weeks, Bancks has relied on the character of his group to pull through and Tuesday night was no exception.
“When I took this over last year, that’s what we wanted to be — a character team,” Bancks said. “You stick with a guy like Charlie Dagostin and guys like that, it pays off in the end.
“You can push them harder in practice. They’re fitter. And they’re just amazing in the community…If you don’t have character kids, it just doesn’t work. Character breeds character. It’s critical that you surround yourself with kids like that, and usually good things happen.”
Dagostin, a 19-year-old defenceman from Dawson City, is just one of a number of character troops often going without great fanfare in Bancks’ arsenal.
With low offensive output on both sides of the puck Tuesday in Creston, it was Bancks’ blueliners providing the character and grit that allowed the Nitros to squeeze a win out at Johnny Bucyk Arena.
Cranbrook native Rory Mallard has made positive strides in recent weeks. While he might not be stacking up numbers offensively, Bancks has been pleased with the steady presence of his 17-year-old rearguard.
“Confidence and aggression are the most important things with him,” Bancks said. “I’ve known Rory a long time…he’s been such a good character kid his whole life. He’s kind of cowboy strong and he’s a really quiet kid, but he’s always been a kid that’s impressed me with his character.
“You take a kids like that and give them an opportunity and they usually take advantage of it and he certainly has. He’s been outstanding.”
Mallard isn’t the only unsung hero holding down the fort for Bancks and the Dynamiters.
Overage defenceman James Jowsey, another Cranbrook boy, has quietly put up seven points in 29 games this season after having been away from the game for two years, according to Bancks.
“It’s been impressive to see how far he’s come,” Bancks said of Jowsey. “He reminds me a lot of Rory [Mallard]. He’s very quiet. But he’s a strong kid.
“He’s deceptively strong. But same thing [as with Mallard], confidence and poise — they’re outstanding.”
While the likes of Dagostin, Mallard and Jowsey did the dirty work in the defensive end, it was Nitros forward Alex Rosolowsky who got the visitors on the board in the first period.
Tyler Podgorenko tied things for the Thunder Cats in the second before import power forward Keenan Haase inflicted the fatal damage with his 10th of the season in the third period to give the Dynamiters the win.
Pesky Eric Buckley chipped in with a helper, as did Coy Prevost and Jesse Wallace.
“We played a really strong team game,” Bancks said. “Tyson Brouwer was very, very good again, which was nice.
“We cycled the puck well. We certainly were the better team.”
Brouwer made 19 stops to earn his 15th victory of the campaign.
The win pulled the Nitros (17-12-1-3) into third place in the Eddie Mountain Division. Kimberley is now three points back of second-place Golden (18-12-0-5), but holds two games in hand on their divisional rival.
For the Thunder Cats (16-12-1-3), they slip into fourth in the Eddie Mountain Division following Tuesday’s loss.
The Dynamiters wrap-up the pre-holiday slate with a Saturday night doozy as they welcome the division-leading Fernie Ghostriders (23-4-1-2) to the Kimberley Civic Centre.