The Kimberley Dynamiters continue to prove the club’s worth as a successful developing ground for aspiring young hockey players.
Monday, vice-president James Leroux confirmed 17-year-old defenceman George Bertoia has committed to the Drumheller Dragons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) for the 2016-17 season.
“You can see the level he plays at,” Leroux said of Bertoia.
“We love to see kids come through… It’s exciting to see these kids get on with their lives and excel at what they do.”
Bertoia, a native of Taber, Alta., was rock steady in his rookie campaign with the Nitros, posting three goals and 14 points in 47 games, while enforcing tough-nosed justice in the defensive end of the rink.
Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 190 pounds, Bertoia was one of the Dynamiters most reliable two-way defenders, playing big minutes down the stretch, particularly during the KIJHL championship after veteran Justin Meier was knocked out of action with a knee injury.
In 19 post-season games, Bertoia added one goal and three points.
Bertoia isn’t the first Dynamiter in recent memory to move on to Alberta Junior A.
Coy Prevost, 18, and Braden Saretsky, 20, joined the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles in 2015-16 after helping the Nitros claim the 2015 KIJHL crown.
Both held prominent roles with the Eagles, as Prevost — a native of Kimberley — tallied 20 goals and 44 points in 60 games, while Saretsky — a native of West Kelowna — registered 17 goals and 37 points in 57 games.
For Bertoia, he joins the Eagles’ rival in Drumheller.
The Dragons (25-29-6) finished the 2015-16 regular season fifth in the AJHL’s Viterra South Division before falling to the Eagles in a five-game first-round series.
Bertoia is the first Dynamiter from this season’s group to commit his services to Junior A ahead of next season, though there’s a very good chance he won’t be the last.
Should life not work out in Drumheller, Leroux said the door remains open for Bertoia to return to the Dynamiters come 2016-17.