After splitting games one and two in Fruitvale, the Kimberley Dynamiters lost game three at home, and then won game four, forcing a final and decisive game five at the Beaver Valley Nitehawks arena on Friday night.
Game three was played at the Kimberley Civic Centre on Tuesday night with 1,024 in attendance.
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks’ Dylan Heppler struck first, scoring just after the five-minute mark in the first. While Matt Davies dangled in short-handed to tie the game in the second period, the Nitehawks soon ran away with the night.
Beaver Valley put extra pressure on and chased down the puck with tenacity, leading to two more goals before the end of the period.
“Frustration was definitely starting to creep in on the bench,” said head coach and general manager Derek Stuart after the game. “[We] were working extremely hard, taking a lot of abuse, but weren’t getting rewarded for it on the scoreboard.
“It’s hard to convince the players that scoring chances are a type of reward.”
The Dynamiters continued to struggle at finishing their chances and the Nitehawks put in a fourth goal late in third frame on a defensive miscue by the Dynamiters.
With the 4-1 win, the Nitehawks took a 2-1 series lead.
“It wasn’t a 4-1 game,” Stuart said. “They finished their scoring chances and we didn’t. It was pretty even game throughout the course of 60 minutes in terms of scoring chances and opportunities [though].”
The focus quickly shifted from Tuesday night’s loss, to the elimination game on Wednesday night. Being that it was the first time this post-season that the Dynamiters faced elimination, it was a packed house with 1,043 Nitros faithful, sprinkled with a few ‘Hawks faithful, filling the Civic Centre.
Both teams skated out to a defensive first period, neither team wanting to make an error to cost the game.
Cody Campbell’s history of bounce-back games continued, as he made 17 saves in the middle period, allowing the team the opportunity to take the lead.
Franco Colapaolo took the puck from the corner, and with patience, skated across the crease and beat Nitehawks’ goalie Tallon Kramer with a backhander.
“It [felt] great,” Colapaolo said of scoring the first goal. “I just try to help out the team in any way I [could]. I knew it was going to be a tight game, and I knew we needed the first goal. Qe play pretty good when we get the first one.”
The Nitehawks turned up the intensity dial in the third, but the Dynamiters matched their pace, and held onto a 1-0 win.
Campbell was named the home star of the game as he made 32 saves to earn his first shutout of the post-season.
“I feel that under pressure in these playoffs I’ve been good, and the team has been great,” Campbell said. “It’s a lot of fun [and] the whole team very is happy.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, they are a phenomenal team. We are on cloud nine, but we’re not done … we have to make sure that we’re ready to go for Friday.”
“We have been believing all season,” Colapaolo said when asked about playing an underdog role. “Even if people weren’t giving us a chance, we knew in that room that we wer’e a good team and that we can beat anyone on any given night. Hopefully we planted some doubt in [the Nitehawks] minds tonight.”
Puck drop is at 8:30 p.m. MDT at the Beaver Valley Arena.
MATCH STICKS: The Osoyoos Coyotes and Chase Heat will be playing their game five at 9:00 p.m. MDT on Friday. The winner will advance to the KIJHL finals to face either the Nitros or Nitehawks.