The Kimberley Dynamiters continued to pile up the victories in KIJHL action this past weekend, grounding the Golden Rockets in back-to-back outings, including a 5-4 overtime victory Friday in Kimberley and a 5-2 decision Saturday up the road in Golden.
While offense continued to come from the usual suspects, it was an unlikely candidate sparking the fuse Friday and chipping in Saturday.
He may not wear No. 65 on the back of his sweater.
And he may not be from Sweden.
But 20-year-old Kimberley Dynamiters defenceman Justin Meier led his team by doing his best impersonation of Erik Karlsson, Norris Trophy-winning blue-liner for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
“He has a tendency to maybe get a little carried away with the aggressive part of the game and we’re trying to encourage him to use his skills and be more of an offensive-type player,” said head coach Jerry Bancks of Meier following Friday’s win.
“Before the third period, I said, ‘You’ve got to play. No penalties. We’ve got to come back and win this game.’ He’s got lots of potential.”
Meier, a second-year Dynamiter hailing from Taber, Alta., listened to the wise words from his coach.
The Nitros forced overtime by erasing a two-goal Rockets lead in the third period before Meier made his impact early in the extra period.
“I saw [Austyn] Moser going down the side and the middle was kind of open,” Meier said Friday night, recounting his game-winning tally. “There was a guy there, but I just followed Jerry’s advice and broke hard to the middle. I just drove the net. The rest is history.”
History indeed. Meier deposited the puck past Rockets goaltender Brody Nelson, extending the Dynamiters winning streak to seven games.
Saturday night, Meier contributed a goal and an assist, boosting his season totals to four goals and 10 points through 14 games.
A win is a win, but Friday’s victory wasn’t an easy one for the Dynamiters as they were forced to erase a pair of two-goal deficits.
The Nitros got off to another slow start Saturday after coach Bancks questioned his team’s willingness to prepare leading up to the weekend.
“We had a terrible practice [Thursday] and it showed [Friday],” Bancks said. “We were fortunate to get two points and dug deep and showed some good tenacity at the end.
“Our preparation during the week wasn’t as good as it needed to be. I told them, I like doing practices. I’d rather do practices than games because a game should be a celebration of all the hard work you did during the week. Then you go out and you play.”
Saturday night, the Rockets once again built an early two-goal edge before the Dynamiters score five unanswered to claim an eighth consecutive victory.
Veteran speedster Sawyer Hunt registered the game-winning goal midway through the third period, while Jared Marchi put up three helpers.
Between the pipes, former Dynamiters goaltender Brody Nelson earned both starts for the Rockets, serving as a steadying presence in the blue paint.
Nelson spent the final portion of the 2014-15 season with the Dynamiters, helping the club to its 2015 KIJHL championship.
“I really tip my hat to Brody Nelson, I thought he had an outstanding game,” Bancks said of his former puck-stopper. “We knew he was good.”
The native of Invermere made 34 saves Friday, before turning in a 30-save performance Saturday.
During the off-season Nelson was dealt to the Revelstoke Grizzlies where he played two games before landing in Golden.
Goaltender Tyson Brouwer earned both decisions, despite only starting Saturday’s contest.
The native of Lethbridge, Alta., came on in relief of Mitch Traichevich Friday, helping backstop the home team to a come-from-behind victory. Saturday, the 5-foot-11 puck-stopper earned his league-leading ninth win of the campaign.
The Dynamiters (11-1-0-2, 24 points) next action comes Saturday night when they host the 100 Mile House Wranglers (8-3-0-1, 17) at the Kimberley Civic Centre.