The 2019 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) Playoffs have begun! The series between the Kimberley Dynamiters and Golden Rockets began Tuesday night.
The Nitros fed off the energy of the fans at the Civic Centre as Keegan McDowell scored his first two KIJHL playoff goals on his first shift of the game, with helpers from Brock Palmer.
The Dynamiters kept scoring in the first, with two more goals to make it a 4-0 game after 20 minutes. Plus outshooting the Rockets 12-6. Goals were by Brandt Bertoia and Ryan Skytt.
In the middle period, the Nitros fell flat, and the Rockets raised their game, and Kale Wareham scored the only game of the period.
In the third the Nitros returned. Braiden Koran got his first KIJHL playoff goal, and Chase Gedny closed out the scoring with the teams sixth goal.
Adam Andersen made 21 saves for his first KIJHL playoff win.
In game two on Wednesday, the Dynamiters started off with the same energy. This time it was Palmer scoring early.
Cam Russell made it 2-0 before the first period ended. The game felt very similar to Tuesday’s game, and that the Nitros won the game in the first period.
Gedny credits the crowd for the teams quick starts, “the home crowd is awesome… it’s pretty easy to be ready to go for that first puck drop.”
But similar to the Tuesday game, the Nitros fell flat in the second. Former Nitro, Chad MciLwain brought the Rockets to within one. Then moments later Brendan Sime-Vivian tied the game at two. At the end of the second it was tied, and the Nitros were outshot in the period.
“Our second periods have not been good in this rink.” Nitros head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said, but couldn’t really explain why the team was struggling in the middle period.
Koran broke the tie in the third, and then Gedny followed it up with a power play goal, and the Nitros restored their two goal lead.
Only for a moment though.
Janson Pashniak drew the Rockets to within one. The remaining moments of the period were tense, and fans from both teams were chanting.
With 52 seconds left on the clock, and the Rockets net empty, Gedny sealed the Nitros victory with an empty net goal.
“The good thing is the score doesn’t really matter to us right now,” Stuart said. “We got the win, and that’s the most important thing.”
The Nitros now take a 2-0 series lead to Golden.
Despite being down in the series, Golden Rockets head coach and general manager Jeremy Blumes said “I am really proud of my guys.” Adding that an overwhelming majority of his players have not played a KIJHL playoff game before.
“Obviously the first one did not go the way we wanted, but the second was a rocky start. We faced adversity and battled through it.”
For Blume heading into the next two games in Golden, they are looking forward to playing their first playoff game in Golden in four years.
“I am expecting a heck of a turnout and a lot of energy in the building, I know I feed off of that, and I know our boys do to.”
Dynamiters Captain Gedny wants to see some more effort in the second period, “our starts have been awesome, and our third periods have been great. We just got to clean up the middle part of the game.”
With fatigue being a concern for Stuart, he wants his team to rest – they have played four games in six nights, overlapping with that the first four games of this series are in five nights.
“We have to play one shift at a time.”
The games on Friday and Saturday start at 7:30.