Some things just get better with age. For the Kimberley Dynamiters, that something is Jared Marchi.
Affectionately referred to as “Grandpa” by his coaches and teammates, Marchi continues to do heavy lifting with captain Jason Richter out of the lineup.
The 20-year-old native of Kimberley did it all Tuesday night, scoring twice, setting up another and playing an effective role on the penalty kill as he led the Nitros to a 4-3 victory over the Creston Valley Thunder Cats in KIJHL action at the Kimberley Civic Centre.
“Grandpa did a heck of a job,” said Jerry Bancks, head coach of the Kimberley Dynamiters, following Tuesday’s triumph. “He was a man amongst boys out there. He protected the puck, he drove the net a couple more times…He could’ve easily had more. He was definitely a great leader out there tonight, which you need when you’ve got Richter out of the lineup. Someone’s got to step up and he did a great job.
“He’s a great kid on and off the ice. He’s as Kimberley as you can be. It means a lot for him to play well here, because he’s always got lots of friends and family [in the crowd]. He’s been a great role model.
“It’s hard when you’ve been in the league as long as he has. Sometimes you have some lulls, but that’s to be expected. His lulls don’t last long. You just give him a gentle little reminder that he’s not working that hard and away he goes. He’s been phenomenal the whole time he’s been here. He’s what you want from the Dynamiters as a local guy. He’s a solid, solid person.”
The 2015-16 campaign has been a remarkable one for the 5-foot-11 East Kootenay product.
Tuesday’s output established new career highs in assists (33) and points (58) for Marchi, who also posted his 24th and 25th goals of the season, tying the career high he set during the 2013-14 campaign.
On top of establishing career marks in all major offensive categories, the locally-produced Marchi recently etched his name in the Kimberley Dynamiters record book, becoming the first player in Junior ‘B’ franchise history to surpass the 200-point plateau while taking a firm grip on the franchise scoring lead. After Tuesday night, Marchi is up to 206 points (94 goals, 112 assists) in 219 games spread across six seasons (2010-11 to 2015-16).
Second in Junior ‘B’ franchise scoring is Richter, with 100 goals and 196 points through 177 games.
“It’s huge. I grew up watching these guys every Friday, Saturday night,” Marchi said. “I idolized a lot of them growing up. To come here and beat the all-time record for scoring is really something special that I look forward to holding for a while, hopefully.”
Marchi’s landmark 200th point came back on Jan. 8 in a 6-4 road win over the Golden Rockets.
“I honestly didn’t even know until after the game,” Marchi said. “Buckley just gave me a nice dish down low and I walked out, pulled it to my backhand and it was an empty net so I slid it in there. Really, it’s a surreal moment after you realize that you’ve hit 200 points in the league.”
Fast-forward to Tuesday night and Marchi continued to rack up the points, opening the scoring in the first period Tuesday against Creston. Taking a long lead pass from new linemate Brodie Buhler at centre ice, Marchi burned in alone on Thunder Cats goaltender Dawson Fennell before snapping a quick shot home for a 1-0 lead.
In the second period, Keenan Haase sparked the man advantage by putting a power-play goal past Fennell. In on the act was Marchi, assisting on the play.
“He’s a pretty old guy, so his wisdom from all the years in this league definitely helps us out,” said the 19-year-old Haase, with a laugh, in regards to his pal on the top power-play unit. “He’s strong on the puck, he guards it really well and many guys can’t get him off the puck. I try to look at that and try to copy what he does.”
After Liam Plunkett cut into the 2-0 Dynamiters lead, Marchi saw to restoring the two-goal advantage for the home team.
Blazing down the right side, Marchi cut to the net before working his way cross crease, leaving Fennell down and out before roofing the puck to make it 3-1 heading into the second intermission.
“I just kept my feet moving all night,” Marchi said. “I was trying to protect the puck as much as I could and take it to the net. Good things were happening for me. You throw a puck on net and it will hopefully find its way in.”
Early in the third period Thunder Cats captain Jackson Bruce-Fuoco clawed his team back within one only 3:55 into the final period.
At the other end, Fennell did everything in his power to give his squad a chance, including turning aside a grade-A scoring opportunity off a two-on-one that saw Jordan Busch feed Franco Colapaolo. The cross-crease feed looked to be a sure-fire goal for one of the newest Nitros, but the 18-year-old Fennell shot from the right post to his left to make a sparkling stop on Colapaolo and keep the game within reach.
Shortly after, veteran Eric Buckley made it 4-2 with his 20th goal of the campaign and the insurance proved necessary as Plunkett registered his second of the night 4:46 later to make it a 4-3 contest.
The final minutes of regulation, while nail-biting for the 446 in attendance at the Kimberley Civic Centre, produced nothing in terms of scoring for the visitors, despite Fennell making his way to the bench for the extra attacker.
By the end of the night, the Thunder Cats rookie puck stopper turned aside 27 shots, while Mitch Traichevich was steady at the other end, making 16 saves on 19 shots.
Both Nitros goaltenders saw ice time Tuesday night, as Tyson Brouwer entered the contest for a whopping 46 seconds in the first period as Traichevich experienced a minor “equipment malfunction,” according to Dynamiters president/trainer Chad Koran.
Brouwer was perfect in his one shift between the pipes, turning aside the lone shot sent his way.
After going 0-for-7 on the man advantage in Friday’s 4-2 win over the Columbia Valley Rockies, the Dynamiters’ third-ranked power-play unit (24.0 per cent) was back in regular form Tuesday, going 1-for-3.
Also taking care of business was the Dynamiters’ second-ranked penalty kill (87.9 per cent) as the Thunder Cats went 0-for-5 on the power play Tuesday.
Next up, the Dynamiters (34-5-0-4) head to Castlegar to face the Rebels (27-12-2-0) Saturday night.