The second round of the KIJHL playoffs kickstarted Sunday in Fernie and the Kimberley Dynamiters picked up right where they left off in round one, earning a 5-2 victory over the Fernie Ghostriders to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eddie Mountain Division final.
“We played a really good first period and then the second [period], a lack of discipline — too many penalties — kind of got them going and they played hard after that,” said Kimberley Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks Sunday night. “It was exactly what we expected. It was great for the fans, great for the area. This is going to be a barn-burner of a series. Game 1 was definitely a barn-burner.”
The Dynamiters capitalized in the first period, building a 2-0 lead before the game was 20 minutes old.
“Our first period was somewhat chaos,” Ghostriders head coach and general manager Craig Mohr told Sara Moulton of the Fernie Free Press. “Credit to them. They came out and played a great first period. They got on us, they were getting to loose pucks before us.
“As the game went along, we started to calm down and started to play our game…It’s a natural thing — you’re playing at home against your biggest rival, I think we were almost over-amped.”
Braden Saretsky tallied a power-play marker before Coy Prevost blasted a puck past Ghostriders goaltender Jeff Orser for a two-goal advantage after 20 minutes.
“It’s obviously a good start,” Prevost said. “It definitely sets the pace for the rest of the series and we look forward to more games like this.”
Forward Justin Peers got the hosts on the board late in the second period, taking a Cole Keebler pass and snapping a shot low past the blocker of Dynamiters goaltender Tyson Brouwer.
As much as stealing home ice from the Ghostriders features as a key storyline for the Dynamiters after Game 1, perhaps the key to how the series plays out from here comes in the status of Brouwer.
The 19-year-old Lethbridge native, who played lights out in the Nitros five-game first-round victory over the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, did not return to the ice for the third period after suffering what Bancks classified as a lower-body injury in the second period.
Brody Nelson finished out the game with Brouwer out of action.
“[Brody] is a quality goaltender who hasn’t had a lot of playoff opportunity,” Bancks said. “He was ready. He made one of the best saves I’ve seen all year and he was very calm in there. I’m excited for him to get the opportunity. I feel awful for Tyson because he was on a roll.
“That’s hockey. Someone’s misfortune is opportunity for someone else. I believe in Brody. He will carry us.”
Brouwer is set to be re-evaluated Monday morning at which point the severity of his injury will be determined.
The Nitros also lost forward Sawyer Hunt to a lower-body injury and he is scheduled to be re-evaluated Monday as well.
On the home side, the Ghostriders saw defenceman Matt Pronchuk leave the game in the first period. He did not return.
Ghostriders defenceman Dan Burgess tallied his first KIJHL goal with a long point shot that found a way past Nelson 11:14 into the third period, tying the game 2-2.
“It was nice tying up the game, got the crowd going,” Burgess said. “Thought the team was back into it for a bit there. Then we had a collapse.”
With time winding down and 553 anxious fans in the Fernie Memorial Arena preparing to settle in for overtime, the collapse was more of a momentary breakdown. Nitros forward Eric Buckley took a long stretch pass from Alex Rosolowsky before breaking in alone and going high glove on Orser.
Buckley’s marker gave his team the 3-2 edge with 4:23 remaining in regulation.
With Orser on the bench for the extra attacker, Justin Meier and Saretsky rounded out the scoring and iced the win for Kimberley with a pair of empty-net goals.
Orser stopped 23 shots, while Brouwer turned aside 19 of 20 before departing. Nelson made eight saves on nine shots in relief.
“It’s an obstacle to overcome,” Nelson said of entering the game in the third period. “But it’s not an excuse or anything. I’ve always got to be ready to go and stay focused no matter what.
“When I get out there, I focus on my net and do my usual skate around, focus in my head, visualize and go from there.”
Game 2 between the Dynamiters and Ghostriders is set for 7:30 p.m. Monday night at the Fernie Memorial Arena.
“The nice thing is, we get to go right back at it [Monday],” Mohr said. “Regroup a little bit. The nice thing about playoffs is, hey, it’s done. Game 1 is over. We go to Game 2 and we said all year we don’t lose two in a row. We worked on that all year for reasons like this.
“They’re a good hockey team. They got us [Sunday]. Plain and simple. They came out and played better than us. [Monday] is a new day. We get back to it. We’ve got to play better than them and get a win. That’s what’s beautiful about the playoffs.”
The series shifts back to the Kimberley Civic Centre for Games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
Ghostriders forward David Kelly removes a rooster from the Fernie Memorial Arena ice surface Sunday night. The rooster made its appearance following Coy Prevost’s first-period goal. Fernie legend suggests the rooster tradition has been around for approximately 30 years and sees the rooster make its appearance after the second goal of the game, regardless of which team scores. Other various wildlife have been substituted for the rooster over the years, including live fish. // Sara Moulton Photo