The Kimberley Dynamiters’ pursuit of first-place in their conference for the 2022/23 season may have officially slipped from their grasp after a two-loss weekend.
While their defensive end remains iron clad, their offensive lines continue to struggle putting the puck in the net with enough frequency to beat their opponents in a very difficult division.
“It’s a major problem right now, actually,” said head coach, general manager Derek Stuart. “Our last six games I believe we’ve only scored 12 goals and seven of them have come from defencemen, so it’s a problem.”
He wants to see his team be hungrier, be ready for the puck and being shot ready — driving the net hard with their sticks on the ice ready for a pass.
“We’re just trying to be too skilled,” he said. “We’re not skilled enough to play the way we are offensively right now.”
Friday saw the Nitros take on the number-one team in their division, the Columbia Valley Rockies. The game was decided in overtime with a final score of 3-2.
“I don’t think anything went wrong on Friday, we held the highest scoring team in the league to one even-strength goal and two goals in regulation time, so we did more than enough defensively to win that game, we just didn’t score,” Stuart said.
“We out-chanced them, we out-shot them 17 to three in the second period and scored once, we just didn’t end up finishing our scoring chances Friday.”
The Nitros then took on the Golden Rockets, and for the fourth time in a row against them, the game was decided by a single goal.
The Nitros tried to a one-goal lead, provided by Ethan Bloomquist early in the first, and were successful until seconds into the third period. The Rockies would then capitalize on a five-on-three power play and that was enough to drive the dagger home.
Stuart said his squad has been too frequently “playing down to their opponents’ level.”
“You go back to the Castlegar game or the Kelowna game where we scored two goals and one goal, barely beat two of the weaker teams in the league,” he said.
“We did it again Saturday and it finally bit us in the ass, we played like we can in the second, had a lot of chances, but again, no goals in the second and by playing down to your opponent’s level you give them a chance to beat you and that’s what happened on Saturday.”
With just four home games and seven total games left in the regular season, there isn’t a lot of time left for the offensive side to figure out these issues.
“To be honest, from a coaching point of view, we can’t score goals for these guys,” Stuart said. “They need to take the initiative here and want to score more and do things will give them chances to score more.
“We’re generating chances, we’re going a good job in that regard, we’re working hard, we’re just not finishing our scoring chances and I believe that’s on the players.”
He said that for the meantime, the team needs to take a bit of a breather.
“I think first place in our conference is out of our reach now, so we’re going to just relax a little bit and get back to work and focusing on, again, bearing down on our scoring chances. It’s the only thing that’s going wrong right now but it’s a major problem at the same time.”
The Dynamiters play Creston on Tuesday, Jan. 24 and Fernie on Friday, Jan 27, with their next home game is Saturday, Jan. 28 against Sicamous.