Despite injuries to eight regulars and illness striking others, the Kimberley Dynamiters refused to lose, earning back-to-back victories in historically tough rinks this past weekend.
Friday night, the Nitros opened the weekend by becoming the first KIJHL team this season to knock off the Fernie Ghostriders in regulation at the Fernie Memorial Arena, earning a 5-3 victory over the Eddie Mountain Division leaders.
Saturday, in a game head coach Jerry Bancks nearly forfeited due to a lack of healthy bodies, the Dynamiters persevered and gutted out a shocking 8-1 road victory over the Golden Rockets.
“It’s a tremendous boost — tough buildings to win in, depleted lineup that allowed a lot of guys to play a lot of big minutes and it just seemed like we grew as a team,” Bancks said Monday. “In the back of our minds, we know we have players coming back. It’s kind of a neat situation to be in, because when we do get healthy, guys will be fighting for chances to play.”
Heading into the weekend, Bancks was already left without the services of six regulars due to injury, including forwards Jared Marchi, Marco Campanella, Sawyer Hunt and Jordan Roy, as well defencemen Jonas Gordon and Tristan Pagura. On top of that, defenceman James Jowsey was ill unfit for duty.
To make matters worse, the Dynamiters bench boss was rendered without stalwart defenceman Jordan Busch and pesky forward Eric Buckley before the first period of play concluded Friday in Fernie, as both were knocked out of action due to injury.
“You do kind of get a bit of a sick feeling,” Bancks said. “Then you start to worry about how many more players you’re going to lose with fatigue, because you do play them too many minutes [as a result of the other injuries]. But I know we are a hard-working group. We have a lot of character in our room and we are resilient.”
Goaltender Tyson Brouwer stood tall early, before Keenan Haase and captain Jason Richter each rattled off two goals to pace the offense. Coy Prevost chipped in with three helpers and the Nitros knocked off the Ghostriders for the second time this season.
With Busch and Buckley added to the injury reserve, Bancks wasn’t sure he was going to be able to field the KIJHL minimum of 12 skaters required to play Saturday in Golden.
“I’ve never seen this,” Bancks said. “This is the worst [injury situation] I’ve ever experienced [in my coaching career].
Jowsey, who didn’t play Friday in Fernie, was able to muster up enough energy to suit up Saturday. Forward Jordan Roy, who hasn’t played since Oct. 17 due to a broken collar bone, was only cleared to play earlier that day.
The Cranbrook Knights, who house a number of the Dynamiters affiliate players, were in action at the same time and only able to lend forward Chase Leroux for the cause.
“With those three players added, that got us over the limit,” Bancks said.
Roy only ended up playing one shift, as Bancks wasn’t comfortable thrusting him into regular duty under the circumstance of returning to action in the rink where he suffered his collar bone injury Oct. 17.
On the other side of the puck, the Rockets dressed a full lineup, but were without leading scorer Ian Desrosier.
What ensued was nothing short of spectacular, as the Nitros stormed past the Rockets by a final count of 8-1.
Richter had himself another two-goal night, adding two assists as well. With six points in two games over the weekend, the Kimberley captain exploded into second place on the KIJHL scoring charts with 51 points, only two points back of league-leader and Fernie Ghostrider Doan Smith (29-24-53).
Braden Saretsky helped fuel the victory over Golden with a two-goal, two-assist performance of his own.
The adversity isn’t about to end as the Dynamiters are back in action Tuesday, welcoming the Creston Valley Thunder Cats to the Kimberley Civic Centre.
“Right now, over the past 10 games, Creston is probably the best team in our division,” Bancks said. “Our lineup, when you look at it, looks like the Red Cross.
“[Creston Valley] has a full team [with no injuries]. They’re playing extremely well…It’s going to be a tough challenge.”
The Thunder Cats have pounced into second place in the Eddie Mountain Division, going 7-2-0-1 through their previous 10 outings.
Heading into Tuesday, the Dynamiters “Red Cross” hospital wing holds: D Jordan Busch (upper body, day to day), F Eric Buckley (lower body, day to day), F Jordan Roy (upper body, day to day), F Jared Marchi (lower body, week to week), F Sawyer Hunt (upper body, week to week), D Jonas Gordon (upper body, week to week), F Marco Campanella (lower body, three to four weeks) and D Tristan Pagura (upper body, indefinite).
Bancks expects to use APs James Rota and Mitchell Anderson Tuesday.
Marchi, who suffered a lower back and pelvic injury in Fernie Dec. 29, is progressing. If all goes well, Bancks said he could be ready in time this weekend’s road trip, which will be surprising news to those who saw him stretchered out of the Fernie Memorial Arena less than three weeks ago.