Up 2-0 over the Creston Valley Thunder Cats in their best-of-seven Eddie Mountain Division final, the Kimberley Dynamiters know the job is far from complete.
With Game 3 set for Tuesday (7:30 p.m.) at the Johnny Bucyk Arena, the Nitros look to take a stranglehold on what has been a tightly-contested series to this point in the proceedings.
“Going into any team’s barn in playoffs is tough,” said Dynamiters forward Sawyer Hunt after scoring the overtime-winning goal in Game 3. “Being up 2-0 going into their rink gives us that edge.
“We need to go in [to Creston] and play just the way we did here in Kimberley — finish checks, play our roles — and we’ll be good.”
Though the Dynamiters claimed victory in Games 1 and 2, both occasions required overtime to come to a decision.
Despite trailing in the series, Thunder Cats head coach and general manager Jeff Dubois has liked what he’s seen from his group and remains confident heading home.
“There really isn’t too much to be unhappy about other than the result,” Dubois said following Game 2.
“We’ve got a pretty mature group and they’ll understand when they wake up [Monday] morning that we’re still in a pretty good position going home. At the end of the day, someone is going to have to win a game on the road to win this series.”
The Dynamiters suffered three of their seven regulation losses at the Johnny Bucyk Arena in Creston this season, so enemy territory has not been a welcoming place to this point in the campaign.
“The hay is in the barn,” said Jerry Bancks, head coach of the Kimberley Dynamiters. “It’s up to [the players] to sort it out. The group is tightening. There’s good stuff going on.
“The boards are much quicker [in Creston]. You have to make some adaptations to what’s going on… But I like the fact we have won there before. We won there this year. I think we should feel good going into their rink.”
The Dynamiters’ lone victory this season in Creston came Dec. 9 — a 5-4 triumph.
The eight-game regular season series was dominated by the home team, with the Nitros winning all four games in Kimberley, while the Thunder Cats claimed three of four in Creston.
“We go back to doing what we do well at home, which is dictating the pace of play, being the faster team, being the harder-working team,” Dubois said. “Our execution level, especially offensively, hasn’t been where we’re used to it being the last couple nights.
“Sometimes just getting back to the comforts of home is the solution.”
What Bancks pointed out about his group after both Games 1 and 2, was his pleasure seeing improvement from start to finish through each game and across the series overall.
If that trend continues, it should bode well for the Dynamiters as they look to advance to the Kootenay Conference final for the second-consecutive year.
But at the end of the day, two wins is only halfway with plenty of hockey to be played between the two clubs.
After a Game 1 overtime thriller saw Jordan Busch play the role of hero, Dubois said it was that type of big-game play from a big-game player that would ultimately decide the series.
KIJHL fans across the East Kootenay are eagerly awaiting the next hero.