Local content has always been a point of pride for the KIJHL’s Kimberley Dynamiters and general manager Mike Reid thinks he has two new gems to keep with the tradition.
In his first official move as GM of the Nitros, Reid signed forward James Rota (1998) of Kimberley and defenceman Tyler Van Steinburg (1998) of Cranbrook back on June 2.
Both having skated with the club as affiliate players (APs) in past years, the landscape isn’t necessarily new for the East Kootenay products, but the roles will be fresh and the challenges tougher as they hope to help the Dynamiters repeat as KIJHL champions.
“Just give it your all every game, every second you’re out there,” Van Steinburg said Saturday afternoon, as he sat in the sun signing autographs during Marysville Days. “Just take it shift by shift and play as a team, do what you can to help everyone out.”
Shift by shift was one of many mantras preached by Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks during his club’s run to the KIJHL championship and silver finish at the Cyclone Taylor Cup this past season.
The opportunity to play for Bancks is something Van Steinburg is already eagerly awaiting.
“He’s a great guy. I’ve learned a lot from him through the sports school program and I’m looking forward to learning even more,” Van Steinburg said. “We’ve got a great group of guys from last season, too. It’s going to be a great season.”
While 6-foot, 180-pound Van Steinburg is set to jump in on the blue line, Rota slots in up front. On the day he signed the 6-foot forward, Reid expressed hope that the Kimberley native will eventually work his way into the top nine during the 2015-16 KIJHL campaign.
With forwards Coy Prevost and Braden Saretsky having departed for Junior ‘A’ opportunities with the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, there’s never been a better opportunity for a fresh face to step in and make a name for himself.
“I’m looking forward to finally getting to play a full season with the team,” Rota said Saturday. “It’s a great group of guys. It’s always been a dream of mine to play for Jerry and play for the Dynamiters, so I’m pretty excited.
“I’m a bit of a grinder, kind of a playmaker. I just work hard and do whatever I can for the team.
“I don’t think I can fully fill those shoes. [Prevost and Saretsky] are really good players, but I’m going to try my best and hopefully I put some points up.”
In 35 games during the 2014-15 season with the Cranbrook Midget ‘AA’ Knights of the South Central Alberta Hockey League, Rota stacked up six goals and 15 assists for 21 points.
In eight career KIJHL games scattered across two seasons, Rota tallied one goal and one assist.
For Van Steinburg, he also finished up last season with the Knights, posting one goal and three points in six games after beginning the season with the Kootenay Major Midget Ice across the mountains in Nelson.
The younger brother of Nitros forward Trevor Van Steinburg also has some KIJHL action under his belt, having played three games with the Nelson Leafs in 2013-14 and a pair of games with the Nitros this past season.
In five career KIJHL outings, the younger Van Steinburg has two assists to his credit.
Rota and Van Steinburg join a contingent of locally-produced Nitros that already includes Marco Campanella (Kimberley), Jared Marchi (Kimberley), Tristan Pagura (Kimberley), captain Jason Richter (Cranbrook), Trevor Van Steinburg (Cranbrook), and Jesse Wallace (Kimberley).
The two East Kootenay signings weren’t Reid’s only moves back on June 2.
The Nitros also inked forward Austyn Moser (1997), who racked up 26 goals and 29 assists for 55 points in 35 games with the Taber Golden Suns of the South Central Alberta Hockey League last season.