Everyone’s favourite Eddie Mountain Division rivalry returns to the Kimberley Civic Centre this Friday night as the Kimberley Dynamiters (18-3-0-2) host the Fernie Ghostriders (11-9-0-2) for the first time in the 2015-16 KIJHL campaign.
The two teams renewed acquaintances for the first time this season back on Nov. 6, in what went down as a 4-3 victory for the Nitros over at the Fernie Memorial Arena.
“It’s the first time a lot of our new guys will get to experience a home game against Fernie in that atmosphere,” said Jerry Bancks, head coach of the Kimberley Dynamiters. “We’re really looking forward to it. [Our players] know from the two losses last week that there’s stuff we’ve got to work on.
“I think they’re anxious to get at it and become a better team.”
In the first meeting between the two clubs, the Dynamiters capitalized on widespread offensive contributions, with no single player recording a multi-point effort.
Veteran forward Eric Buckley tallied the game-winning goal midway through the third period on the power play, while goaltender Tyson Brouwer turned aside 29 pucks to backstop his club.
Buckley and Brouwer will once again be relied upon this weekend as the Dynamiters could head into action without the services of a number of key cogs.
Last weekend, captain and leading scorer Jason Richter (18G, 16A) aggravated an upper-body injury that previously kept him out of two games. He remains day-to-day.
“He’s not himself,” Bancks said of Richter. “We’ve got to decide whether we keep playing him or let him sit for a couple weeks.”
The 19-year-old forward returned to action in the team’s 3-1 loss to the Castlegar Rebels, tallying a trademark Richter goal, but Friday against the Kamloops Storm, he didn’t quite look the same.
Veteran Marco Campanella suffered a lower-body injury last weekend and, according to Bancks, is expected to miss a minimum of six to eight weeks.
A pair of rookies are also questionable heading into this weekend as forwards James Rota (lower body) and Korbyn Chabot (lower body) are listed as day-to-day.
Chabot last suited up in the Nitros 3-1 loss to the Castlegar Rebels (Nov. 10), while Rota was hurt in Saturday’s 5-2 defeat in Creston.
Not to be forgotten is the fact the Dynamiters have already been operating without the services of forward Jesse Wallace (shoulder) and defenceman Tristan Pagura (shoulder), who were lost to injury early in the season.
With the number of bodies missing up front, regular defenceman Devon Langelaar suited up as a forward Sunday in the Nitros 6-5 victory over the Columbia Valley Rockies in Canal Flats. Bancks said that’s an option he will use once again this weekend if push comes to shove.
On the other side of the puck, the Ghostriders might be the only team in the Eddie Mountain Division more banged up than the Dynamiters.
Last weekend, the Ghostriders were without the services of a number of regulars, including defencemen Travis Thomsen, Ryan Teslak and Keagan Kingwell, as well as forwards Aidan Wilson, Mack Differenz and Spencer Bender.
Finally, in stark similarity to what’s going on in Kimberley’s camp, Fernie was without captain and league-leading scorer Cole Keebler (19G, 20A) in a 4-2 loss to the Rockies (Nov. 13), though he did return to action the following night in a 4-0 loss to the Storm.
While the Ghostriders are off to a bit of a slower start in 2015-16 than they were in 2014-15 — sitting third in the Eddie Mountain Division — Bancks doesn’t question their willingness to compete.
“They’ve got a good team,” Bancks said. “We have to be at our best.
“I’m hoping [the Eddie Mountain Division] becomes a division where anyone can beat anyone if you’re not at your best. I know that’s how it is with the top four teams [Kimberley, Creston Valley, Fernie, Columbia Valley].
“Fernie might have been a little banged up last weekend and that might have affected their performance a little bit.
“It will be good. It will be very competitive and that’s what you want. The games are meaningful.”
While there’s plenty of fun to be had at the rink on any Fernie-Kimberley rivalry night, this Friday will also mark the return of Food Bank Night to the Kimberley Civic Centre.
“We always get a good crowd out for the Fernie games, so we are hoping it will be a good night for the food bank,” said Malcolm Fruin, director of the Kimberley Helping Hands Food Bank. “We usually do over $2,000 in food, so it’s a big night for us.”
Spectators are encouraged to bring along non-perishable food items, toques, mittens and socks. Following the first goal of the game, toques, mittens and socks will be tossed on to the ice surface, so fans are requested to properly package any donations in plastic bags to prevent them from sticking to the ice.
Puck drop between the Dynamiters and Ghostriders is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at the Kimberley Civic Centre.
With files from Carolyn Grant/Kimberley Daily Bulletin