The Kimberley Dynamiters brought a five-game losing streak to an end with a 2-1 victory over the Spokane Braves Thursday night.
“I think the five-game losing streak helped us get some points across,” said Dynamiters head coach Jerry Backs Thursday night. “I thought [our team] did a great job [tonight]. I thought the forecheck was better. Our natural-zone forecheck was better and that’s what we were trying to accomplish.”
Nitros captain Jason Richter led the way offensively, notching both goals for the hosts, who grabbed their first win since a 6-4 triumph over the Golden Rockets Nov. 1.
“It was huge,” Richter said Thursday night. “We’ve been a little bit down and we had a good practice this week. It really helped us out. Now going into Golden, we’ve finally got some confidence.”
Both teams did all their scoring during the opening 20 minutes of play. Richter opened the festivities 2:10 into regulation with a power-play marker from high in the slot that beat Braves goaltender Trevor Dilauro glove side.
Less than 10 minutes later, the Penticton native sent his 20th tally of the season to the back of the net, putting a little bit of heat on teammate Tyson Klingspohn for the team lead in the goal-scoring department. Klingspohn sits atop the league in goal-scoring with 21 markers, tied with Castlegar Rebels forward Bryan Lubin.
“Every hockey team that is successful needs a Jason Richter,” Bancks said of his captain. “He is a guy who, when he is out there on the ice, he puts in such an effort — blocking shots, second effort everywhere, takes a hit.
“Basically, he embarrasses guys into playing the way he plays. It’s pretty phenomenal. We’re very fortunate to have him.”
Richter hit on all of his coach’s talking points Thursday, including blocking a Braves point shot in the dying moments of the third period to help preserve his team’s 2-1 edge.
Braves leading scorer Jonny Marzec took advantage of a giveaway deep in Kimberley territory late in the first period, cutting the Nitros lead to 2-1. Unfortunately for the visitors, that’s all they could muster Thursday night.
Making his 12th appearance of the season, Dilauro turned in a stellar performance for the Braves, stopping 34 pucks and keeping his team in the game through the final 40 minutes.
At the other end of the rink, Tyson Brouwer returned to the Dynamiters crease, making 20 saves for his 11th victory of the season.
Dynamiters forward Brady Revie was ejected from the game late in the second period. No explanation was given for the misconduct handed down to the 18-year-old Cranbrook native and after the game, Bancks still wasn’t quite sure why Revie’s night ended early.
“I believe he asked the referee where he was going for dinner after,” Bancks said with a laugh.
While Richter tallied twice for the hosts, defenceman Trevor Van Steinburg earned two helpers along the way.
After going pointless for four games (Oct. 31 to Nov. 8), Van Steinburg has settled in of late, registering four assists in four games since Nov. 14.
After a strong October, the month of November has been drastically different for the Dynamiters.
Kimberley finished October with a record of 6-4-0-2, paced by an offence that outscored opponents by a combined margin of 56 to 38 (4.67 to 3.16 per game).
For comparison’s sake, the Nitros are 2-5-0-0 so far in November, with three games remaining on the schedule. With November winding down, Kimberley has been outscored by a combined margin of 28 to 18 (4.00 to 2.57 per game).
“We’ve just got to bare down on our chances more,” Richter said of the downturn in offence. “A lot of times we kind of think it’s too easy. After tonight and the practice this week, we realize we need to focus and bare down on our chances.”
The win pushed the Dynamiters back into second place in the competitive Eddie Mountain Division. The Fernie Ghostriders (16-4-0-1) continue to hold strong atop the division, while a mere two points separate second-place Kimberley and fourth-place Creston Valley (11-8-1-3) with the Golden Rockets (12-10-0-3) wedged in the middle.
“When it comes down to it, we’ve still just got to win games,” Richter said of the divisional logjam. “It’s still early on in the season. We’re still progressing but it all comes down to February.
“It obviously matters where we get into playoffs. We obviously want to have home advantage, but when it comes down to it, February is when it matters.”
Kimberley face two important divisional tests beginning tonight when they travel to Golden to face the Rockets, before moving on to challenge the first-place Fernie Ghostriders Saturday night.
“We need everybody to make good plays,” Bancks said. “It’s got to be a total team effort. We can’t wear Richter, Marchi, Klingspohn, guys like that, out. You need everybody going [this weekend].”
In three games against the Rockets this season, the Dynamiters hold a 2-1-0-0 record. The two teams last met Nov. 1 in Kimberley, a 6-4 victory for the Nitros.
The Nitros and Ghostriders have only met once this season, a 2-1 triumph on home ice for Fernie Nov. 7.