With a 4-3 road victory over the Fernie Ghostriders, the Kimberley Dynamiters extended their season-high winning streak to 13 games Friday night.
In a lot of ways, this run from the KIJHL-leading Dynamiters (16-1-0-2) is beginning to resemble a story once told by 1980s rock band, Journey.
The streak — 13 games — goes on and on and on.
“They can be proud of everything they’ve done so far — extremely proud,” said Jerry Bancks, head coach of the Kimberley Dynamiters, Monday afternoon. “That’s a tough thing to do — win that many games in a row in a league that’s this competitive.
Sure, Journey’s well-known hit might be an epic love story.
True, there might not be any small town girl living in a lonely world in the Dynamiters version of this adventure. Or even a city boy, born and raised in south Detroit.
But without doubt, there is a team working hard to get their fill.
While seven of the 13 victories have come in the friendly confines of the Kimberley Civic Centre, the Nitros have had their work cut out for them on six other occasions, taking the midnight train going anywhere — well, not exactly anywhere — collecting wins in Revelstoke, Golden (three times), Invermere and the infamous Fernie Memorial Arena.
The most recent of those triumphs came in that exact barn.
Friday night in Fernie marked the first meeting of the season between the Dynamiters and Ghostriders — a renewal of a heated Eddie Mountain Division rivalry — anticipated by all.
Everybody wants a thrill when these two teams clash and Friday night did not disappoint.
“Two good hockey teams and luckily we came out ahead,” Bancks said.
“I liked our defensive play. I thought the backend played extremely well and Tyson was Tyson.”
Nitros goaltender Tyson Brouwer, 20, made 29 saves to backstop his club Friday night, earning his league-leading 12th victory of the season.
Rookie forward Korbyn Chabot opened the scoring in the first period before Riders defenceman Evan Reid knotted the contest at 1-1 with 1:56 remaining on the clock.
Just when it looked as though the two teams were headed to the dressing room deadlocked after 20 minutes, veteran forward Sawyer Hunt beat Ghostriders goaltender Jeff Orser with only 18 seconds to go, restoring the one-goal lead for the visitors.
“He challenged himself by trying the Junior ‘A’ thing, which I give him credit for,” Bancks said of Hunt. “That’s a positive. A lot of guys get comfortable and they just want to come back and play here again.”
After being returned to the Dynamiters from the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, Hunt has recently been given the opportunity to skate alongside centre Keenan Haase and winger Eric Buckley within the team’s top-six and it’s paid off for Bancks as the 18-year-old Hunt is riding a seven-game point streak (5G, 4A).
The Ghostriders clawed even early in the second period, with Tayler Sincennes beating Brouwer. But once again, the Nitros struck late as defenceman Justin Meier tallied with 2:29 to go in the period to restore the one-goal advantage yet again.
Midway through the third period, Buckley provided all the insurance necessary as he registered a power-play goal to put the Dynamiters ahead for good.
Ghostriders defenceman Ryan Teslak scored with 41 seconds on the clock to pull the home team within one, but it’s as close as they could manage.
Orser made 25 stops in a losing effort for Fernie (10-7-0-2).
The Dynamiters went without captain Jason Richter for the second consecutive game Friday night and he isn’t expected to be available when the team hosts the Castlegar Rebels Tuesday at the Kimberley Civic Centre.
While Richter missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury, forward Brodie Buhler returned from the hospital wing to make his Dynamiters debut Friday in Fernie.
“Brodie played with a lot of spirit and a lot of energy,” Bancks said. “He finished every check. You can tell his timing was off — it will take him a little bit to get the offensive part of his game going, but you definitely knew he was out there every shift.
“Real good energy on the bench. He’s a welcome addition.”
Tuesday, the Dynamiters return to home ice where they will roll the dice one more time in hopes of extending the winning streak further, welcoming the Castlegar Rebels to Kimberley from the nearby Neil Murdoch Division.
The Rebels (13-6-1-0) sit second in the Neil Murdoch, only two points behind the Beaver Valley Nitehawks (14-4-1-0).
“The old cliche — we have to play our game, do what we do well and respect how well they’re doing,” Bancks said. “They’ve gotten off to a good start.
“They finish their checks and they’re pretty aggressive on the penalty kill.”
When the final buzzer sounds Tuesday night at the Civic Centre, some will win and some will lose. Some were born to the sing the blues. Oh, the movie never ends.
The excitement of last year’s KIJHL championship run sparked life in Dynamiters fans throughout the East Kootenay.
While we certainly haven’t reached the denouement or even the climax of this story, the Dynamiters have already provided plenty of action for fans to fall in love with.
Don’t stop believing.