If the Kimberley Dynamiters send any more players to the University of Jamestown’s fledgling Jimmies hockey program, they’re going to need a bus to carry them all.
Last week, Dynamiters defenceman Justin Meier became the third Nitro to commit to the upstart American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division One squad, joining teammates Eric Buckley and Tyson Brouwer in making the move to Jamestown, North Dakota.
“I can’t wait. It’s going to be the best time of my life,” Meier said. “I’m doing it with some of my best friends. It’s going to be an awesome experience.
“It’s a huge opportunity to go with guys you already know and play well with and have chemistry with. You know you’re going to go in there and play. It was pretty much a no-brainer.”
The University of Jamestown hockey program is in the process of being built by Penticton native Dean Stork, who was named the head coach and general manager of the prospective ACHA Div. One team in August.
“The attraction to recruit in Kimberley was being that it has such great hockey tradition,” Stork said. “Very well coached and structured, which leads to success and discipline on the ice. Kimberley is a hockey powerhouse in the KIJHL year after year.”
Th Jimmies hockey program will apply to compete in ACHA Div. One beginning in the 2016-17 season, giving Meier, along with his Nitros teammates Buckley and Brouwer, the opportunity to carry some Kimberley hockey culture south of the border.
“It’s always been a dream, but you never really expect it,” said Meier, a native of Taber, Alta. “You always just think you’re going to end up working in the oil patch or something. It’s going to be a good experience and I’m looking forward to it.”
Meier has been instrumental to the success of the Dynamiters since first joining the club in January 2015.
The hard-hitting, smooth-skating blue-liner added a physical element to the Nitros backend that was key in helping the club skate to the 2015 KIJHL championship and an appearance at the Cyclone Taylor Cup, B.C.’s provincial Junior B championship.
“It’s outstanding. It’s a credit to winning. These guys get caught up with looking at goals and assists, but it’s not about it. It’s about being on a winning team,” said Jerry Bancks, head coach of the Kimberley Dynamiters. “Coaches want winners and I think [Dean Stork] has identified some kids that are certainly going to help his program moving forward.”
Meier, 20, is looking forward to studying business when he attends the University of Jamestown.
In 41 career regular season games with the Dynamiters, Meier has racked up 11 goals and 24 points, including eight goals and 18 points through 29 games in the 2015-16 KIJHL season.
Meier and the Dynamiters (23-3-0-3) will look to extend a five-game winning streak Friday night when they welcome the Columbia Valley Rockies (16-15-0-0) to the Kimberley Civic Centre.
After Friday’s affair, the Nitros welcome the Creston Valley Thunder Cats (18-8-1-1) to the Civic Centre Saturday.
Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.