The Nitros surged ahead to a 3-0 series lead over the Fernie Ghostriders, with a win by the same tally at the Kimberley Civic Centre on Friday night.
It was scoring by committee, as Trey Doell, Keenan Haase and Trevor Van Steinberg hit the stats sheet while goaltender Troy Brouwer made 28 saves to earn the shutout victory.
The Dynamiters special teams also came up huge with some key penalty kills, denying Fernie the chance to score on all seven of their powerplays.
“It’s all about goaltending and specialty teams,” said Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks. “Your best penalty killer is our goalie and our goalie’s been phenomenal, so our penalty kill’s been good.
“I like the effort in our penalty kill, I like the shot-blocking and everything we do, which helps us.”
On the flip side of the penalty kill was the success of the powerplay, which was good for two goals in seven opportunities with the man-advantage.
Right off the bat, the Nitros were given a golden opportunity to get themselves ahead with an early two-man advantage for 1:38, however, the team struggled to get some rubber on net.
“The five-on-three, we lost Haase at the moment, one of his blades broke and we kind of run our five-on-three though him and the player we put out there wasn’t familiar with what we were trying to do,” said Bancks.
“…They’re kind of funny, if something isn’t just right, then it throws them off and it shouldn’t.”
During the powerplay, an errant pass across the Fernie defensive zone blueline was intercepted and produced a shorthanded breakaway, which Tyson Brouwer turned away with a clutch save.
The emotion was on full display as well, with the Nitros going hard to the net after every save from Butler, which sometimes boiled over into more than pushing and shoving.
Fernie’s powerplay also struggled early, and while they got a few shots directed towards the goal, Brouwer was able to stand tall and keep the biscuit out of the net.
After a scoreless first period, the Nitros got on the board in the middle frame on a powerplay goal from Trey Doell, who teed up a drive from the blue line that redirected off a Fernie defender. Initially the goal was credited to Nitro forward Korbyn Chabot, who was busy making life difficult for Ghostrider goaltender Brandon Butler in the crease.
“He had the good screen and was doing what he needed to do so it was just as good,” said Bancks. “People get too caught up in who got the goal. We got the goal; we got three of them tonight and they didn’t get any, and that’s all that matters.
That would be Doell’s first career playoff goal in a Dynamiter uniform.
At the 3:02 mark of the second, just as a Fernie penalty expired, Haase worked his way into the slot and snapped home a slick feed from Richter, who fed him from the goal line.
In the third period, the Nitros had a bit of a scare as Haase went down in the corner and headed to the bench, skating off under his own power after play was stopped.
The two teams continued to trade stints in the penalty box in the final frame, but it was Van Steinberg who found the back of the net by redirecting a low shot from James Farmer.
“You just gotta keep playing hard,” said Nitro captain Jason Richter. “The last 20 [minutes] going into the third there, during the intermission, we talked about how it’s the last 20 miles, we’re up 2-0 and we just have to bear down on all our clears, our dumps, pucks in, pucks out and just bear down.”
Facing elimination, the Ghostriders will try to work their way out of the 3-0 series deficit on Saturday, with Game Four in Fernie.
Bancks says it will be business as usual in terms of his team’s preparation.
“We learned that last year,” he said. “You just have to make sure you focus on the moment; don’t get too high, don’t get too low and every game is hard to win. It’s gonna be tough to win the fourth one.”