The Kimberley Dynamiters played three home games in a row this past weekend, as they looked to keep their undefeated home record intact.
The Nitros began the home-stand against the Neil Murdoch division leaders, the Nelson Leafs. The Leafs are lead by former Dynamiters, Sawyer Hunt, who is now finishing his junior career captaining his hometown team.
From the start of the game, it felt like it was a playoff game, if not even a teaser of a potential Kootenay Conference final.
“It felt like a playoff game in the room and on the bench,” head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said. “It was a good matchup of two of the better teams in our conference. It looked like a playoff style game.”
The Dynamiters’ league leading power play got them an early 1-0 lead, thanks to Chase Gedny, at the midway point of the first.
From that point on it was a deadlock game, as every centimeter of the ice was highly contested.
Just as the 527 fans in attendance thought the Nitro’s would skate away with a 1-0 victory, the Nelson Leafs scored with just under five minutes left.
This game was headed to over time. The first over time period was four-on-four.
The Leafs were penalized with 15 seconds left in the first over time period. The Nitros had a great opportunity with a faceoff in the attacking zone. Faceoff was won, but they went offside, and eight seconds remained on the clock.
Plans were being made for the second over time period. Nitros won the faceoff, and with four seconds left on the clock Matt Davies rushed the net, taking a shot, a rebound was left and Devon Langelaar banged home the rebound milli-seconds before the buzzer went.
The Dynamiters won 2-1 in overtime.
“They didn’t give up.” Stuart said of Davies and Langelaar. “It was very impressive to see them press right until the buzzer.”
Nitro’s September player of the month Cody Campbell made 24 saves in his sixth win of the season.
“Campbell was excellent, and so was Williams for Nelson.” Stuart said. “It was a goaltenders battle. That was Campbell’s best game of the year so far.”
Next up was the shortened-bench Spokane Braves. The Braves iced 13 skaters, plus their starting and backup goaltender.
The 484 fans, and even the Nitros, were surprised, yet impressed, with how the Braves played, keeping the first 20 minutes scoreless.
“Credit to them, the Braves were outstanding.” Stuart said. “They worked really hard and battled with 13 skaters.”
Gedny scored his second goal of the weekend early in the second, but the Braves responded right back. After 40 minutes, it was a tie, but the Nitros were leading in shots 32-18.
Stuart was pleased with the Nitros play, “We had plenty of prime scoring chances, but their goalie was just made some unbelievable saves.”
In the third, the Nitros began to pull away from the Braves. Nicholas Ketoa, who always ups his game against his hometown team, gave the Nitros the lead. Then Davies made it a two goal lead with a power play goal.
Adam Andersen would make 19 saves for his fourth win of the season.
“It was a battle, and a hard earned victory”
The third game of the homestand was against the Golden Rockets. Before the puck dropped, the team honored and recognized the contribution of the parents of the players – with the players giving their moms roses.
“Its nice before and after games to go visit with them” Brandon Langridge said about having his parents at the game. “But our main focus didn’t change.”
The Nitros were geared and ready to impress their parents as 12 different players would register a point.
“We got back to focusing on our actions, instead of results,” Stuart said.
Brandt Bertoia and Brant Mack would open the scoring in the first, with each of them getting a goal.
The Dynamiters then exploded for three goals in the middle period, as Ketola, Cam Russell and Brock Palmer would each score. It was 5-0 after the first, the shots were onesided as well, 31-16.
Ketola and Palmer would increase the lead to 7-0.
It was at the four minutes left mark that drew a lot of attention. Palmer was hit, and teammates Davies, Ketola and Lucas Chilton came to his aid. In that moment, six game misconducts were handed out to go along with 82 minutes worth of penalties.
“I’m not too upset that Davies did what he did. When something like that happens, it was good to see the team stand up for each other.”
As of right now, Ketola was given a one-game suspension because of the time of his game misconduct, and Davies is suspended two games for fighting and the game misconduct.
With the three wins the past weekend the Dynamiters now improve to 7-0 at home, and have now won five straight.
Stuart credits short shifts and the crowd for the teams success over the three games. “The crowd definitely helped. They were a big influence on the players.”
Langridge agreed, “With all the parents and the fans in the crowd it made it a lot easier.”
It is interesting to note, that the Nitros continue to play without two key defenders, Mason Palaga and captain Brett Roberts.
“There is something to be said for opportunities.” Stuart says. “To see our depth as good as it is this early is a good surprise. It is very encouraging for down the line since the players are showing us that they can play.”
The Dynamiters now prepare for a road swing visiting Castlegar and Spokane.