Kimberley Dynamiters general manager Dave Smith didn’t sit idly as the KIJHL trade deadline came to pass Saturday night.
The Nitros general manager swung one deal with the Kamloops Storm, acquiring goaltender Brody Nelson (1995) in exchange for future considerations. After that, he went out and signed defenceman Justin Meier (1995), who had recently been released by the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).
To make room for Nelson and Meier, the Dynamiters parted ways with rookie backup Liam McBain (1997) and veteran forward Austin Hancherow (1995).
“[Liam McBain] is just a phenomenal kid,” said Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks Monday afternoon. “A lot of the character we have on our team to get through the weekend we just did is because we have players like Liam in our room.
“I just think he was losing confidence and was getting very frustrated. It was in his best interest to move along and he agreed.”
McBain, a native of Tualatin, Ore., had been with the Dynamiters since the beginning of the season, but complications with the B.C. Hockey and Hockey Canada approval processes delayed his on-ice debut until Oct. 24. The 5-foot-10 puck-stopper went 2-6-0 with a 4.01 goals-against average (GAA) and 0.857 save percentage (SP) in nine games with the Dynamiters this season.
Taking McBain’s place between the pipes is an Invermere native familiar to many KIJHL fans within the Eddie Mountain Division.
Brody Nelson comes to the Nitros as a veteran of 83 KIJHL games, including 77 with the Columbia Valley Rockies.
After beginning the season with the Rockies, Nelson was dealt to the Kamloops Storm, where he went 4-2-0 with a 2.20 GAA, 0.912 SP and two shutouts from Dec. 5 to 20.
“As far as I’m concerned, we stole one there,” Bancks said of acquiring the veteran Nelson.
Nelson became available after the Storm went out and acquired goaltender Jake McMullen (1995) from the Grand Forks Border Bruins.
With the goaltending situation shored up, next on the agenda was adding a veteran presence on the blue-line. But before that could be done, the Dynamiters were forced to part with two-year veteran Austin Hancherow.
“He’s another wonderful kid, who was a big part of our team,” Bancks said. “He basically became the odd man out.
“With Keenan Haase, Lincoln Lane and Braden Saretsky coming in, that made it really difficult for him to get into [a top-six role].”
Hancherow, a native of Calgary, tallied five goals and 19 points in 67 games with the Dynamiters, spread between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 KIJHL campaigns. According to Bancks, Hancherow is going to finish out the season playing for the CBHA Blackhawks (Junior B) in his hometown of Calgary.
As Hancherow headed back to Alberta, the Dynamiters dug into the AJHL to recruit defenceman Justin Meier, a native of Taber, Alta., who had been released by the Okotoks Oilers.
At 6-feet and 185-pounds, Meier stands to help anchor a blue-line that, at least in the short-term, appears to be without veteran Jordan Busch, who was injured in Friday night’s 5-3 victory over the Fernie Ghostriders.
Though he’s never played in the KIJHL, a few folks around the league are familiar with the product of southern Alberta.
According to Bancks, Meier attended Dynamiters spring camp two years ago before attending fall training camp with the rival Ghostriders, who released him prior to the regular season.
“He’s a real character kid and a good player — good enough to play Junior A, in my opinion,” Bancks said of Meier. “He did play Junior A at the start of the season and it was probably just at numbers thing [that saw Okotoks release him]. We were lucky enough to get him here.
“Down the road, I expect him to be playing a lot of big, big minutes. It may start as early as [Tuesday against Creston Valley]…He skates well. He’s tough as nails. I’m looking forward to getting him going. I just don’t want to throw him into the fire too severely [Tuesday].”
Meier is in Kimberley and will suit up Tuesday night when the Dynamiters host the Creston Valley Thunder Cats in Eddie Mountain Division play.
As for Nelson, he joined the team Saturday night in Golden and was originally expected to start against the Rockets. In consultation with Nelson and Brouwer, Bancks opted to go with his regular starter, factoring in Nelson had not played a game since seeing a whopping six minutes of action Dec. 20 with the Kamloops Storm.
Bancks wouldn’t tip his hat as to when Nelson will see his first start, but said he does expect the 19-year-old to play in the coming week, whether that be Tuesday against Creston Valley (7 p.m. at the Kimberley Civic Centre) or on the weekend road trip through the Okanagan (Jan. 16 at Osoyoos, Jan. 17 at North Okanagan).