There’s no stopping the Kimberley Dynamiters these days.
With a 5-1 victory over the Columbia Valley Rockies on Halloween night in Invermere, the Nitros extended a season-high winning streak to 12 games and completed an undefeated month of October.
“There are no easy games in this league. Everybody that plays is a good hockey player, so there are no easy games,” said Jerry Bancks, head coach of the Kimberley Dynamiters, Monday afternoon. “But in terms of the schedule, because we started with six road games, it was probably the easiest month we’d have and I challenged [the players] with trying to run the table [in October].
“The last couple years, we’ve gotten behind because we didn’t start this way. Then you’re trying to play catch up and it leads down the stretch to you’re trying to overplay players going into the playoffs. It’s critical that you get off to a good start and you can’t ask for anything more than what we’ve done so far.”
The Dynamiters 12-game winning streak, which began Saturday, Sept. 26 with a 4-3 road victory over the Revelstoke Grizzlies, has seen the team firing on all cylinders, outscoring opponents by a combined margin of 50-19 (4.17 goals-for per game to 1.58 goals-against per game).
The Nitros were triumphant in 10 games through the month of October, capped with Saturday’s victory over the Rockies.
Forwards Keenan Haase and Sawyer Hunt provided all the necessary offense Saturday night, as each tallied in the first period to give the Nitros a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
On the strength of a 20-save performance from goaltender Tyson Brouwer, Hunt’s first-period goal stood as the eventual game-winning goal, boosting the Dynamiters to a KIJHL-best record of 15-1-0-2 (32 points) through the first two months of the season.
“[The Rockies] are a much-improved team,” Bancks said. “They had just finished beating Revelstoke, Creston and Fernie in their building, so we knew it was going to be a very different team from what we’d seen earlier in the year.”
The Rockies did scrape one goal out Saturday as Luke Bellerose scored in the second period to make it a 2-1 game. But before the buzzer went to signal the conclusion of 40 minutes, forward Eric Buckley restored the two-goal lead.
Forwards Jared Marchi and James Farmer added third-period goals to round out the scoring.
A total of five different Dynamiters registered multi-point efforts, including Haase, (1G, 1A), Buckley (1G, 1A), Marchi (1G, 1A), Marco Campanella (2A) and Jordan Busch (2A).
While the win was worth celebrating, the Dynamiters discovered what life was like without captain Jason Richter, who missed his first game due to an upper-body injury suffered Oct. 27 in Golden.
“Unfortunately and fortunately — you look at it both ways — I thought it was kind of nice that without Jason Richter in the lineup, we were able to play so well,” Bancks said. “Some other players stepped up and assumed bigger roles, more leadership and played with more energy.”
Richter joins a battered group of Dynamiters in the hospital wing.
Already out indefinitely due to shoulder injuries are forward Jesse Wallace and defenceman Tristan Pagura.
Defenceman Zach Morey has been plagued by an upper-body injury, while forward Brodie Buhler — acquired from the Revelstoke Grizzlies back on Oct. 9 — has yet to suit up as he recovers from a lower-body injury.
According to Bancks, the team is hopeful Buhler will make his debut this weekend, joined by the return of Morey to the blue line. On the flip side, as of Monday, Richter is not expected to be available for Friday’s meeting with the Fernie Ghostriders.
“For him to miss a game, he’s got to be pretty sore,” Bancks said of Richter. “So we’ll see where it goes.”
Whether it’s with or without their heart-and-soul captain, the Dynamiters will look to extend their winning streak to lucky No. 13 when they travel to Fernie to face the Ghostriders (10-5-0-2, 22 points) Friday night.