The Kimberley Dynamiters remain undefeated with two wins and a tie in a triple-header schedule of KIJHL action over the weekend.
The Nitros settled for a tie with the Columbia Valley Rockies on Friday night, but earned a thrilling 4-3 win over the Fernie Ghostriders on Saturday and a 2-1 victory over the Sicamous Eagles on Sunday afternoon.
In five games, the Nitros have four wins and a tie, while four other teams in the KIJHL are also undefeated.
Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks attributes the team’s performance to the their commitment to each other, pointing to an important five-minute major penalty kill against the Ghostriders.
“One of the biggest things I’ve seen is the character in the room,” said Bancks. “We’ve got a tough month in October and you always make decisions as a coach—on Wednesday we had the night off, but we went for a run, and they bought into it, and I think you can see, that in the third period, even killing the penalty, I thought we were the fitter team, and that’s something that you can’t do without character in the room, and they really bought into that.”
Kimberley started off their weekend with a 2-2 draw against the Rockies in Invermere, coming back in the third period to tie things up with just under eight minutes remaining in the contest.
Kyle Pouncy scored an early shorthanded marker, while Logan Kemer doubled the Columbia Valley lead, before Jason Richter responded by the end of the frame.
After a scoreless second period, Andrew Stack managed to hit the twine and light the lamp to even up the game at 7:41.
Tyson Brouwer stood in goal, making 36 saves for Kimberley, while Brody Nelson turned away 34 shots for Columbia Valley.
The Nitros had plenty of special teams work, mainly on the penalty kill, neutralizing a few five-on-three man-advantages and two five-minute majors.
That work certainly helped on Saturday night against the Ghostriders, as the Nitros had to make an important five-minute major kill on a boarding call, after Dallin Wolf got tangled up with Cole Weber in a footrace for the puck at the end boards.
The Nitros killed most of the penalty, and drew a minor at the end of it to force four-on-four hockey for the rest.
“We must be about one goal against in 30 (power plays) so we know we have a good penalty kill, the only one they got was the four-on-three, so that was huge. We knew we could do it,” said Bancks.
“We went through two of them and two long five-on-three’s last night (Friday), so we’ve had a lot of practice.”
Jordan Busch scored with 38 seconds left in the tilt against Fernie to break the tie and lift the Nitros to a 4-3 win on Saturday night.
The Nitros and Riders traded goals in the first period, both on the powerplay—Aidan Geiger for Fernie, Jared Marchi for Kimberley.
Fernie took the lead twice in the second period, but every time the ‘Riders scored, the Nitros answered back. Josh Teves put the Ghosties ahead at first, but Tyson Klingspohn responded for the Nitros.
Both teams swapped goals again, with Joel Burgess putting Fernie in the lead, before Marchi brought it back to a tie. Riley Stishenko and Josh Odelein also dropped the gloves and squared off at centre ice, which ended with five-minute fighting majors and game misconducts.
Halfway through the final period, Wolf and Weber raced each other for the puck in the end zone. Both were pushing and shoving to get ahead, but Weber went down a few feet out and slammed into the boards.
Wolf was assessed a boarding major and a game misconduct on the play.
However, the Nitros killed the penalty, in large part to the work of goaltender Jeremy Mousseau.
“Jeremy was great,” said Bancks. “He made some huge saves, especially down the stretch and that’s what you want from your veteran goalie, that’s why he’s there.”
Busch effectively ended the game with 38 seconds remaining in the final period when his slap shot from the point snuck through the five-hole of Phoenix Logan-Hill.
Mousseau ended up with 23 saves, while Logan-Hill made 22 stops for Fernie.
Marchi, who was voted the team’s hardest worker by his fellow teammates following the game, said beating their divisional rivals is always special.
“It’s a great feeling, especially to get the first win at home against them, it’s always big,” said Marchi. “Had a big crowd here, great support from hometown fans.”
Sunday’s game was the third tilt in as many days, with a 2-1 Nitro win over the Eagles being the final result.
The two teams held each other scoreless in the opening period, and traded goals in the second frame—Riley Jepson for Sicamous, and Dylan Sibbald for Kimberley.
Andrew Stack broke the tie five minutes into the third period to lift his team to victory.