The Kimberley Dynamiters had a lone game this past weekend, a rematch against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
The history between the Nitro’s and Nitehawks, the arch-nemesis from the Neil Murdoch Division, goes back many years. In recent memory, the Nitehawks have been the combatant in the Kootenay Conference Finals against the Nitro’s. Last season, the Nitro’s lost to them after forcing a decisive game five, the Nitehawks then went on to win the KIJHL title, and the Cyclone Taylor Cup.
This season, the Dynamiters downed the Nitehawks back in September, and then a blowout win last weekend. The Nitros looked to sweep the season series against the Nitehawks with a win in the third meeting.
It took about five minutes for the Nitros to find their skating legs, due to not having a Friday game, and schedule that has included two Tuesday games this month.
“It’s an adjustment, for sure.” Said head coach and general manager Derek Stuart. “But they are adjusting fine.”
The Nitros exploded for three goals in the first once they found their groove. Chase Gedny opened the scoring his 12th of the season. Matt Davies and Nicholas Ketola rounded out the scoring in the first.
“We have been having roughing starts for quite a while. It was our best first period in a long time. We got everyone involved early to feel like they are ready to go in those first couple of shifts.”
The second period was a lull in the game. Even though the Nitros led in shots 15-8, the shots were skewed due to power plays near the end of the period.
“I didn’t like our second period.” Stuart said. “More so in terms of going on the attack, and having that killer instinct.
“I thought defending we were pretty good in the second. We were solid. All six of our defencemen were good last night.”
One player that was being an example on the back-end, was Mason Palaga, who we tend to notice more when he is on the attack compared to defending.
“Defensively he was very difficult to play against. He had a good stick and gap all night.”
In the third the injury laden Nitehawks bench found energy and cut into the Nitro’s lead. Ketola would restore the three goal lead, to only have the Nitehawks score later. It was too little too late, and the Nitro’s held on for a 4-2 victory.
Nicholas “Captain America” Ketola was named the star of the game, recording two goals, one being the eventual game winner, and he also added an assist.
“Ketola was excellent regardless if the statistics. He was our best forward all night. He has been playing solid hockey all season long. It is very rare that he has a game where he doesn’t compete or work as hard as he can.”
But another player also had a three point night, Brandt Bertoia, registering three assists.
“It is good to see Bertoia get on the scoresheet. He is starting to heat up now, to score and produce as we expect him to.”
Cody Campbell turned aside 19 of the 21 shots he faced as he earned his 10th win of the season.
The win means the Nitro’s have swept the three-game season series against the Nitehawks, and that should prove to be a confidence booster.
“Even though Beaver Valley was missing some key players on Saturday, it’s always nice to beat the defending champs and the team that ended your season last year.” Stuart said. “To go 3-0 verses them this season should give us confidence if we happen to meet up in the playoffs.”
While there are still some games remaining against the Neil Murdoch Division, from this point forward, the Nitro’s schedule becomes very Eddie Mountain Division heavy.
MATCH STICKS: Davies left the game early due to a slash, Stuart reported if the score was closer or later in the season, he would have played through it. As a precaution, Davies will have x-rays and be evaluated.