The Kimberley Dynamiters had back-to-back games with first place in the KIJHL up for grabs.
The Nitros were riding a six-game winning streak heading into the weekend and beat the Creston Valley Thunder Cats 4-3 on Friday before falling to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 3-1.
Their showdown with the Thunder Cats was a battle for first place in the KIJHL and the Eddie Mountain division.
The Cats opened the scoring early on Friday, but the Dynamiters responded quickly with goals from Devon Langelaar, Chase Miller, and James Farmer. After 20 minutes the Nitros had a 3-1 lead.
“I thought that was our best first period of the season thus far,” said head coach and general manager Derek Stuart. “Even though Creston scored first, we took the play to them early and responded excellently. [We] responded to two quick ones and then adding a third before the period ended.”
Franco Colapaolo gave the Dynamiters a commanding 4-1 lead over the Cats with just under seven minutes left in the second.
“After we got our fourth goal on the power play, we took our foot off the gas a little bit and made a couple of errors. Creston is extremely skilled and they made us pay for both those errors.”
The Dynamiters paid by having two goals scored on them in a matter of 60 seconds, cutting into the lead and making it 4-3.
“We refocused and reset in the intermission and came back and played hard in the third and closed it out.”
The Dynamiters kept the Thunder Cats scoreless in the last frame, holding on for the win. Cody Campbell was in net for the Nitros making 28 saves for the win.
“He was really good,” Stuart said. “He played solid. He stuck to his game. He has experience playing in big games when taking his previous team to the TELUS Cup. Nothing seems to rattle him. He was very solid.”
With Campbell’s stellar performance, he suited up again for the Dynamiters against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
“It was a hunch,” Stuart said. “He played excellent against Creston and made some big, big saves. We wanted to play him again to see how he could handle back-to-back games – we’ve done that with Traichevich before.”
Stuart also added, “Regardless of who is net, our team is very comfortable and confident with both goaltenders.”
Campbell and the Dynamiters squared off against the red-hot Nitehawks who were looking for their tenth win in a row and were led by goaltender Tallon Kramer, the October Kootenay Conference Player of the Month.
Kimberley opened the scoring with a goal by Tyler Van Steinburg. But the Dynamiters had yet to realize what kind of game they were in.
“The first half of the game we were not ready to play the type of game that it was,” Stuart said. “It was the closest to an elimination playoff game that we’ve had this year. It was very intense, quick, hard hitting, and very physical.
“We didn’t adapt to that until the second half of the game. A good team is going to capitalize on [us] when we make mistakes.”
The Nitehawks tied the game early in the middle frame, and then took the lead halfway through the same period.
“After the midway point of the second. I felt we responded and pushed back and started to play the way Beaver Valley was playing. Once we figured that out, they did a very good job in the second half of the game.”
The Dynamiters kept pressing throughout the remainder of the game. They did the traditional desperation move by pulling the goalie in the final 90-seconds, but the Nitehawks dumped the puck into the empty net.
“We missed two glorious chances prior to the empty net goal. We fanned on them, but that happens, unfortunately.”
When all was said, and done, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks won their tenth game in a row, diffusing the Dynamiters 3-1.
Stuart was extremely pleased with his team’s performance despite the 3-1 result.
“I am really proud with how the boys responded in the second half of the game. Especially after playing such a hard game in Creston on Friday, and then to play another elite team in the league on Saturday.
“Once we figured out the style of game it was going to be, we figured out that style and played well. It was a good learning experience for our players.”
During the Nitehawks game, the Nitros’ leading scorer, Korbyn Chabot, left the game after a knee-on-knee collision.
“Chabot needs to see the team doctor. We are hoping it is not as bad as it originally looked. It’s one of those things. It was the right call, give credit to the ref for making the call.”
But while one Nitro may go down, another is returning to the lineup as Bryce Salverda has been cleared to play. Drew Van den Bosch and Connor Kendall are still shelved.
The Dynamiters will now regroup and recharge for a road game on Thursday in Creston at 7:30 p.m., followed by Castlegar on Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
For up-to-date Kimberley Dynamiter information visit: www.kimberleydynamiters.net/blog. Also follow Josh on twitter @joshuaklockhart.