A B.C. Interior road trip proved a tougher challenge for the Kimberley Dynamiters following a pair of divisional victories to open the 2015-16 KIJHL season.
With three games in three nights scattered through the Doug Birks Division, the Nitros came home with three of a possible six points, falling to the 100 Mile House Wranglers in regulation and the Kamloops Storm in double overtime, before ending the weekend on a high note with an 8-0 victory over the Sicamous Eagles.
Friday in 100 Mile House, the two squads battled through 40 minutes of scoreless hockey before the Wranglers tallied twice in the third to claim a 2-0 victory.
“It was an eye-opener for some of our newer players that we’re playing for keeps,” said Mike Reid, Dynamiters general manager and assistant coach. “100 Mile is a tough team to play. They don’t have a lot of structure. Their game plan is basically to finish every check and try to create a couple turnovers, which they did.”
While the regulation loss stung, the bigger loss came in the form of defenceman Tristan Pagura.
Late in Friday’s contest on an inconsequential play, the Kimberley native re-injured his surgically repaired shoulder and is out indefinitely.
Pagura, 18, skated in two contests last season, before undergoing shoulder surgery in December.
“It might have been one of the hardest nights I’ve had [in hockey],” Reid said. “It wasn’t about hockey at that point. It was about him.
“It broke my heart.”
While Pagura’s career potentially came to a devastating end Friday, the career of a new Nitro got off to a roaring start.
Backup goaltender Mitch Traichevich made his Dynamiters debut, turning aside 28 of 30 shots sent his way in what Reid characterized as an “outstanding” performance.
Saturday, the Dynamiters returned to Kamloops for the first time since winning the KIJHL championship back in March.
After building a 2-0 lead courtesy goals from Eric Buckley and Marco Campanella, discipline cost the Dynamiters as Jackson Ross scored a power-play marker to get the Storm on the board before Dante Raposo tied the contest late in the second period.
Raposo added his second of the night in double overtime to complete the comeback for the hosts.
“Overall, we were very pleased in Kamloops, with everybody,” Reid said.
“We played within our systems, we played within our game plan. It was good.”
Special teams hurt the Dynamiters in both losses, as the power play went a combined 0-for-7.
Sunday in Sicamous proved a much different story from the previous two nights.
The Dynamiters power play clicked at 50 per cent (2-for-4) and captain Jason Richter added a short-handed tally to lead Kimberley to a resounding win over the Eagles.
Leading 2-0 after 20 minutes, the Nitros doubled the advantage after 40 minutes and double it once again in the final 20 minutes of play.
Goaltender Tyson Brouwer made 30 saves for his second shutout of the season, while Eric Buckley, Jared Marchi, Austyn Moser and Richter each registered three points.
The Dynamiters return to action Friday (8 p.m.) when they visit the Chase Heat.
Notes: Forward Keenan Haase (1996) is returning to the Kimberley Dynamiters from the Weyburn Red Wings of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The native of Mission Viejo, Calif., is expected in town this week and will be available when the Dynamiters take to the road Friday… With the news of Haase’s return, the team released forward Ricky Bateman (1997). In two games, the native of Fort. St. John registered no points. Over the weekend, Bateman aggravated a shoulder injury originally sustained in training camp…