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KIJHL: Best of three

Kimberley Dynamiters & Kamloops Storm down to best-of-three games for KIJHL championship. Game 5 goes Friday in Kimberley.
Kamloops Storm captain Felix Larouche (left) causes problems for Kimberley Dynamiters goaltender Tyson Brouwer (right) during Game 3 of the KIJHL championship at McArthur Park Arena in Kamloops. The Storm and Nitros return to the Kimberley Civic Centre for Game 5 Friday night.

In the Kimberley Dynamiter’s pursuit for Kimberley’s first Junior B championship since 1980, Games 3 and 4 in Kamloops didn’t go exactly to plan.

After the Nitros jumped out to a 2-0 series lead following Games 1 and 2 at the Kimberley Civic Centre, the Storm made use of home ice to even the best-of-seven series 2-2 leaving three games to decide the 2015 KIJHL championship.

“I’m a big believer you’ve got to have good parking skills. What’s happened these last two days is done,” said Kimberley Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks following Wednesday’s 4-0 setback in Game 4.

“It’s done. Everything we’ll do from this moment on will be in preparation for playing in front of the best fans in the KIJHL in one of the best barns. It’s all positive from here on.”

With roughly 1,000 fans in attendance at seemingly every recent Kimberley Dynamiters playoff game, there’s no doubt the Kimberley Civic Centre will be humming come Game 5’s 7 p.m. puck drop Friday night.

“We’ve got the best fans in the league so it will be pretty easy to be up and ready for [Game 5],” said Nitros captain Jason Richter Wednesday night. “We do well in our own barn and we’re back to that regular ice surface. We’ll definitely come out harder.”

Both Bancks and Richter expressed thoughts that the Nitros didn’t come out hard enough or ready to play in Game 4 Wednesday in Kamloops and a 4-0 final score in favour of the Storm is reflective of those musings.

With both teams having earned a pair of victories on home ice, all that remains is a best-of-three series for the KIJHL championship.

“If someone would have told us at the beginning of the season we could play a best-of-three on the road for the championship, we would have been there in a heartbeat,” Storm head coach Ed Patterson told Adam Williams of Kamloops This Week. “I think we’ve got the momentum with the way we pounded their bodies physically. We know the rink now, inside and out, after playing a couple games there and the boys are stoked to get on the road.”

The Storm arrived in Kimberley Thursday afternoon and got in a quick practice in preparation for Friday’s all-important fifth game.

In 10 post-season home games, the Dynamiters are 7-1-2, having suffered one home-ice defeat per series.

The Creston Valley Thundercats edged the Nitros 2-1 in overtime Feb. 20, while the Fernie Ghostriders got past Kimberley 7-4 at the Civic Centre March 4.

Most recently, it was the Beaver Valley Nitehawks earning a 4-3 overtime win in Kimberley March 15.

Away from the Olympic-sized surface at McArthur Park, the Kamloops Storm are 4-4-1, including 0-2-0 at the Kimberley Civic Centre. If the Storm hope to claim the KIJHL championship, they will have to find a way to win in Kimberley at some point, be that in Game 5 or, if necessary, Game 7 on Tuesday, March 31.

The winner of Friday’s all-important Game 5 will hit the road back to Kamloops with a 3-2 series lead and an opportunity to claim the league title in Game 6 Sunday evening at McArthur Park Arena.

The winner of the KIJHL title heads to the Cyclone Taylor Cup (April 3 to 6 in Mission) to compete for the B.C. provincial title.

The Townsman/Bulletin has you covered for the KIJHL championship as sports editor Taylor Rocca will be headed to Kamloops for Game 6. For live updates, follow Taylor on Twitter (@taylorrocca) and keep eyes on for nightly game stories.