The Kimberley Dynamiters aren’t wasting anytime filling holes as they retool in hopes of making a second consecutive KIJHL championship run in 2015-16.
The Nitros signed a trio of players Tuesday morning, including a pair of local East Kootenay products.
Forward James Rota (1998) of Kimberley, defenceman Tyler Van Steinburg (1998) of Cranbrook, and centre Austyn Moser (1997) all join the club following successful Midget ‘AA’ campaigns in 2014-15.
“We’re pretty happy with what we have, we’re just looking to add to it,” said Mike Reid, Kimberley Dynamiters general manager, Tuesday morning. “We thought we would be in a position to win the league this [coming] year. To be defending champs now, everybody’s got us circled on their calendar.
“We’re going to be the hunted rather than the hunter this year.”
Rota and Van Steinburg will be names familiar to Dynamiters fans for a host of reasons.
Apart from being locally raised, both Rota and Van Steinburg were listed as affiliate players (APs) with the Dynamiters last season.
The 6-foot Rota has appeared in eight games with the Dynamiters over two seasons as an AP, collecting one goal and one assist.
“He’s put the work in, on and off the ice, to give himself this opportunity,” Reid said. “As local content, we like that and he’s proven he’s ready to make the jump this year.
“He’s going to have to cut his teeth as a full-time player. It’s a little easier when you’re wearing a cage and you’re out there as an affiliate…This year, we want him to slide somewhere into our top nine at some point in the season. He’s going to have to earn his ice time just like everyone else.
“He’s a big kid and he’s going to continue growing. We see him as one of those kids who hasn’t played his best hockey yet.”
The 16-year-old spent the bulk of the 2014-15 season with the Cranbrook Knights of the South Central Alberta Hockey League, where he registered six goals and 21 points in 35 games.
Van Steinburg appeared in two games with the Nitros during the 2014-15 campaign, collecting two assists. Prior to his time in Kimberley, the right-shooting defenceman dressed in three games as an AP with the Nelson Leafs during the 2013-14 season.
He is also the younger brother of Dynamiters forward Trevor Van Steinburg.
The younger Van Steinburg split his 2014-15 season between the Kootenay Major Midget Ice of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League and the Cranbrook Knights of the South Central Alberta Hockey League.
“Tyler had a tough year last year playing ‘AAA’ Midget over in Nelson,” Reid said. “It just didn’t work for him. He’s really dedicated himself off the ice these last few months to get himself into tremendous shape.
“He’s a 17-year-old, right-hand shot defenceman that skates well. Those guys are hard to find. We’re pretty happy that he’s ready to make the jump to the Dynamiters.”
Though new to the KIJHL, Moser is expected to factor into the offense right away after he rang up 26 goals and 55 points in 35 games with the Taber Golden Suns of the South Central Alberta Hockey League.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound pivot ranked 10th in the South Central Alberta Hockey league in scoring last season.
“We’re expecting [Moser] to jump in and contribute right away,” Reid said. “He’s considered probably one of the best players in the South Central league.”
Rota and Moser have big shoes to fill as the first signings since forwards Coy Prevost and Braden Saretsky left the team for Junior ‘A’ opportunities with the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Rota and Van Steinburg, along with a handful of other Nitros, are expected to be at Marysville Daze this Saturday, June 6, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.