Kimberley Dynamiters forward Eric Buckley continues to be a nightmare for opponents. In Game 1 of the Kootenay Conference final, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks were the latest to be terrorized.
With 2:01 remaining in overtime, Buckley buzzed his way across the Beaver Valley blue line before snapping a shot past Nitehawks goaltender Carson Schamerhorn to give the Dynamiters a 3-2 victory, effectively stealing home ice advantage away from the Nitehawks.
“He’s fearless,” Kimberley Dynamiters coach Jerry Bancks said of Buckley. “He’s the one guy who, even early in the game, was going first to pucks and taking a hit to make a play.
“He was ready to go right off the hop…His leadership was great.”
Buckley’s overtime heroics capped a come-from-behind road victory for the Dynamiters, who needed to erase not one, but two deficits in the third period in order to take a 1-0 series lead.
After a scoreless first period, Nitehawks forward Tyler Hartman opened the scoring with a power-play tally.
Schamerhorn was unbeatable through 40 minutes of play as the Nitehawks carried the 1-0 edge into the final 20 minutes of regulation.
“He really challenges the shooters a lot, he’s quick to come out,” Bancks said. “We have to deal with that. I think we have to get more pucks on net and be a little hungrier for rebounds.”
Nitros forward Alex Rosolowsky was the first to find a chink in the armour of the 17-year-old Nitehawks netminder.
The 19-year-old Calgary native took a pass from Sawyer Hunt, depositing the puck into the Nitehawks cage with 13:33 to go in the third.
With the period winding down, it appeared as though both clubs were settling in for overtime until Nitehawks forward Ross Armour restored the lead for Beaver Valley with 5:56 to play.
“It was a little discouraging,” Bancks said of Armour’s late goal. “We had started to come back in the game and had the better chances. They’d had more shots, but we had a couple glorious chances.
“But you know, it was kind of funny, you kind of had a good feeling all night. It’s a group of winners. They know how to win and they figured out a way to do it again.”
All it took was 2:13 for Coy Prevost to poke a rebound past Schamerhorn, tying the game 2-2 with 3:43 to play.
After that, Buckley took care of the rest.
Nitros goaltender Tyson Brouwer turned in his typical sterling performance, stopping 38 of 40 shots, including a dazzling glove save with 56.7 seconds to go in the third period.
“They took it to us in the first period, but Tyson did what he does,” Bancks said. “Then we got our feet underneath us and we responded.”
The Dynamiters will look to grab a 2-0 series lead Thursday in Game 2 at the Beaver Valley Arena in Fruitvale.
“We have to believe in ourselves,” Bancks said. “We have some young players out there that seem a little nervous and tentative. We’ve just got to believe how good we are and make them beat us instead of us thinking they’re going to be a hard team to beat.
“We’re a hard team to beat.”