For the fourth time in the past four years, the Kimberley Dynamiters are the Kootenay Conference Champions, after defeating the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 3-2, in triple overtime Monday evening.
“It’s a good run this organization has going.” Head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said. “Jerry Bancks started all of this, I am just trying my best to keep up and keep it going.”
It took triple overtime for the Nitros to down the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and to advance to the KIJHL Finals, nearly replicating last years double overtime win in game six against the Nelson Leafs.
This game though, felt like deja-vu.
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks opened the scoring. The only other time they opened the scoring was in game four, and they went on to win. Bradley Ross scored on the power play in game four, he did the same thing in game five.
To make matters worse, the Nitros did not get their first shot on net until there was 8:45 left in the first. They were doubled in shots 10-5.
The Nitehawks literally quieted the Nitros fanbase.
The 1,342 in attendance got more and more into the game as it progressed.
In the second, it was the Nitros turn to dominate a period. Outshooting the Nitehawks 18-4.
One of those shots was by Captain Chase Gedny, tying the game at one. The Civic Centre erupted to 110.8 decibels, louder than a helicopter.
Brock Palmer said about the noise level of the fans, “I think the noise makes it easier to focus. It gets you in the zone. When everyone is cheering, it is just so mesmerizing.”
During the third, the Dynamiters took a one goal lead during a wacky play. The puck lofted over the Nitehawks stellar goalie, Noah Decottignies, hit the cross bar, landing the crease. A scrum ensued and Palmer poked the puck in. 2-1 Nitros.
Late in the third, penalties got the better of the Nitros. On a subsequent 5-on-3, the Nitehawks scored their second power play goal of the game.
With 5:40 left in the third, the game felt like overtime.
When the third ended, there was a short break and then a ten minute first overtime period. Resolved nothing.
During the full intermission, players and fans found ways to snack and be hydrated to keep their energy level up during the second overtime period.
The second overtime period was penalty-less. Fans were holding their breath with every Nitehawks chance, and waiting to celebrate when the Nitros had a chance.
Adam Andersen and Decottignies made it feel like this game was going to be a stale mate with their fantastic goaltending.
The second overtime ended without a winner.
Meanwhile, the Revelstoke Grizzlies won 5-1 against the Kelowna Chiefs. A game that started and ended during the Nitros and Nitehawks game.
Third overtime. Brock Palmer. All alone as his linemates were changing. Found a weak spot in the Nitehawks goalies armour, and won the game 51 seconds into the third overtime period!
“It was crazy. It was nuts.” Palmer said. “All the fans in the building, it’s such a great atmosphere.”
The crowd erupted.
The Nitros celebrated.
Kootenay Conference Champions.
“To get to where we are now feels outstanding,” Stuart said, “the guys have earned it every step of the way. They should be proud of themselves.”
After the game, the two teams kept the hockey tradition and shook hands. The Dynamiters were also presented with the 2019 Kootenay Conference Champions banner. No one touched it.
Now the Nitros wait for the outcome of the Revelstoke and Kelowna series. Revelstoke leads the series 3-2.
If Kelowna wins, the KIJHL Finals start in Kelowna. If Revelstoke wins, the KIJHL finals start in Kimberley.
In either case, the Finals start Friday March 29.
For now, the Nitros will enjoy the feeling of the win as they take a day off.
MATCH STICKS: In a terrible turn of events for the Kelowna Chiefs, their team President and General Manager, Grant Sheridan, was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. He is currently in ICU at Kamloops hospital.