The Kimberley Dynamiters found a way back into second place in the KIJHL’s Eddie Mountain Division with a pair of victories over the Columbia Valley Rockies this past weekend.
Friday night, the Nitros travelled to Invermere and disposed of the Rockies by a final tally of 8-1.
The next night back in Kimberley, the Rockies raced to a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes, but couldn’t hold on as the Dynamiters rallied to score five goals in the third period en route to a 7-3 triumph.
The victories, paired with a Fernie Ghostriders (28-6-1-2, 59 points) win over the Golden Rockets (19-15-0-5, 43), allowed the Dynamiters (20-14-1-3, 44) to leapfrog their Eddie Mountain Division rivals from Golden.
“I didn’t need to say a whole lot [in the second intermission],” said Kimberley Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks following Saturday’s victory. “They knew where they stood. They knew if they just worked hard, kept the puck out of our end and pressured them, eventually it will come. We tried to get them to think that way at the start of the game, but I think after [Friday] night’s [8-1 win in Invermere], they were a little lackadaisical. They thought it would be easy and it’s never easy.
“I have respect for some of the players on that team [the Rockies]. They worked hard. They definitely outplayed us for two periods.”
The shorthanded Rockies began Saturday’s game with 14 skaters, four short of the maximum allowance of 18. Rockies defenceman Nick Evdokimoff was ejected in the opening five minutes of the second period after being slapped with a five-minute major for cross-checking.
After scrum in front of the Rockies crease, Evdokimoff laid the lumber to the face of Dynamiters captain Jason Richter to earn the five-minute major penalty, leaving his team with only 13 skaters to finish the night.
Nitros forward Braden Saretsky, who tallied a shorthanded goal in the second period Friday night, gave the home team a 2-1 advantage with another shorthanded goal in the first period Saturday night.
“I’m not much of a PK guy, but I get my chances,” Saretsky said with a chuckle Saturday. “When I do…I know that I can be a little bit more offensive.
“I guess I do have a bit of a gift for shorthanded goals.”
A gift indeed as two shorthanded goals wasn’t enough to satisfy the 18-year-old speedster from West Kelowna.
Saretsky added a third shorthanded goal to his registry, kick-starting the Kimberley comeback and tying the game at 3-3 early in the third period Saturday night.
“We’re starting to figure out how to go about doing it — the time and place to maybe go out and take a chance [shorthanded] and gamble a little bit,” Bancks said. “[Saretsky] has a great set of hands and good anticipatory skills. When he does get an opportunity, he buries it.”
Another highlight for the Nitros over the weekend set against the Rockies came as rookie defenceman Rory Mallard tallied the first two goals of his KIJHL career.
“Rory gets a little bit better every day, which is what every athlete’s goal should be,” Bancks said. “That’s what you try to tell these kids, especially the younger ones. It doesn’t all happen at once. It’s baby steps, little by little. As long as you’re progressing, that’s good.
“Rory is one of those. He does get a little bit better every day. A little more confident, he’s getting a little more aggressive. It’s all coming together for him.”
Mallard earned his first-career goal Friday night in Invermere and it stood as the game-winner marker in a 7-1 victory. Saturday night, the 18-year-old native of Cranbrook registered the insurance marker, giving his team a 5-3 edge in the third period.
“It’s boosted up my confidence a lot actually,” Mallard said of his increased role in recent weeks. “I came into this year kind of uneasy and wasn’t expecting much ice time as a rookie. But I’m working towards my ice time and I’m doing what I can.”
Rockies forward Harrison Davies powered his club Saturday, claiming two goals and an assist. Forward Braydon Barker also had himself a three-point weekend for Columbia Valley, finding twine both Friday and Saturday, while also adding a helper in the Rockies’ 7-3 defeat.
Goaltender Tyson Brouwer earned both wins against the Rockies, despite only starting Friday’s contest in Invermere. Brouwer came on in relief of Liam McBain as the Nitros trailed 3-2 Saturday night.
Forward Lincoln Lane didn’t suit up this weekend for personal reasons, but is expected back in the lineup when the Dynamiters visit the Fernie Ghostriders Friday, Jan. 9.