The Kimberley Dynamiters look to make up ground in the KIJHL’s Eddie Mountain Division this weekend, but with five key players missing due to injury, that won’t be an easy task.
Veteran forward Marco Campanella is expected to miss six to eight weeks after suffering a lower-body injury. Forward Sawyer Hunt continues to battle an upper-body injury and rookie forward Jordan Roy is still healing up after breaking his collar bone earlier this season.
Defenceman Tristan Pagura has only played two games with the Nitros this season and is out indefinitely. In recent weeks, Jonas Gordon was knocked out of action with an upper-body injury.
Friday night, the Dynamiters head south of the border to face the Spokane Braves, before returning home to host the Golden Rockets at the Kimberley Civic Centre Saturday night.
“The key is making sure we play a team game, keep things simple and take short shifts,” said Nitros head coach Jerry Bancks Thursday afternoon, acknowledging his team’s short-handed situation. “You really have to play smart and you have to be disciplined. If you look at the penalty minutes teams acquire when they’re down [in Spokane], you’ve got to be disciplined or you won’t get any breaks.”
Import forward Keenan Haase, a native of Mission Viejo, Calif., has stepped up in recent weeks and will be looked upon to continue his progression with the injuries up front.
In his last four games, Haase has registered four goals and six points, boosting his season point total to 16 through 29 games.
“He’s a long ways away from home and it took him a while to adjust,” Bancks said of his 18-year-old power forward. “He’s learned now that there’s no 50/50 puck battles. It’s 80/20 in his favour the way he’s playing and that’s how he needs to play. He’s gaining confidence and he’s a strong kid.
“I’m thrilled with how he’s progressed, the confidence he’s playing with and the strength that he’s showing out there…He’s established himself as one of the top players in the league. Now he needs to act like it. That’s sometimes the hard part, to do it every night.”
With the Dynamiters’ doctor’s office full, a pair of affiliate players hope to boost the team’s fortunes Friday in Spokane.
Forwards James Rota (1998) and Jacob Bromley (1998) are expected to travel with the club and suit up against the Braves.
Both players come to the Nitros from the Cranbrook Knights of the South Central Alberta Hockey League (midget AA).
Rota leads the Knights in scoring, with four goals and 16 points through 21 games. Bromley sits second in team scoring with nine goals and 13 points.
Rota has skated in one game with the Dynamiters so far this season, registering an assist Nov. 21 in Golden. The 15-year-old Kimberley native also dressed in three games with the Dynamiters during the 2013-14 campaign.
For the 16-year-old Bromley, this will be his first appearance with the Dynamiters.
The Braves and Dynamiters have only met once so far in the 2014-15 campaign, with Kimberley edging Spokane 2-1 at the Civic Centre back on Nov. 20.
Dynamiters captain Jason Richter registered both goals in the win, while Braves goaltender Trevor Dilauro made 34 stops to keep the visitors in the game. Jonny Marzec scored the lone tally for Spokane.
The Dynamiters then host the Golden Rockets (17-11-0-5) Saturday night. With three games in hand on Golden, Kimberley will look to claw back within striking distance of the Rockets, who hold down second place in the Eddie Mountain Division heading into the weekend.
“All these games before Christmas are big,” Bancks said. “It’s a great opportunity for [Braden] Saretsky and [Lincoln] Lane to get into the lineup and see what it’s like to play within our division and to see the enthusiasm of the crowd here.
“There’s no experience like the Kimberley Dynamiter hockey experience…I’m excited for them to experience that. It’s a gentle warmup because we’ve got Fernie just around the corner and you know the barn will be rocking.”
Saretsky was acquired from the Summerland Steam Nov. 28 in exchange for Tyson Klingspohn. As for Lane, the official Hockey Canada stamps have yet to formally seal a deal between Kimberley and Grand Forks that would see the Border Bruins leading scorer don Dynamiters black and red. That being said, it is expected he will be cleared to play by Saturday night.