Hockey fans got some serious bang for their buck this weekend as KIJHL action at the Kimberley Civic Centre required overtime to reach decisions both Friday and Sunday.
Friday night, it was the Fernie Ghostriders (13-9-0-2) scoring a 3-2 overtime win against the host Kimberley Dynamiters (19-3-0-3), claiming round two of the clubs’ Eddie Mountain Division rivalry.
In Sunday matinee play at the Civic Centre, the Dynamiters scraped out a 3-2 overtime win of their own, edging the visiting Sicamous Eagles (5-17-0-3).
“I thought we played extremely well. For a while there it looked like it was going to be another one of those games where I thought we dominated play and a goalie beat us,” said Jerry Bancks, head coach of the Kimberley Dynamiters, Sunday afternoon. “[Kolby Pauwels] played phenomenal. But we stuck with it.
“I thought we cycled the puck well. It was a really good game for us.”
While the Nitros came out with two points from Sunday, that outcome was never certain as the two clubs went back-and-forth before California product Keenan Haase lit the lamp 28 seconds into overtime, scoring a feel-good goal to give his team the win.
“We needed to win that game,” Haase said Sunday.
“I’m glad my parents got to see a goal there this weekend, as they’re here.
“It definitely gives me a bunch of drive, especially with them making that long flight from California. I’ve got to play my best for them now that they’re there [in the crowd]. The motivation was there and I just went with it.”
In the opening stages of overtime, the native of Mission Viejo, Calif., collected a puck down low in the corner before wheeling out untouched in front of Eagles goaltender Kolby Pauwels and unleashing a hot shot over the netminder’s shoulder.
“Keenan looks like a man amongst boys out there,” Bancks said. “He always wins puck battles, he stays on top of the puck. He’s a tremendous player and he’s learning now to work hard to support the ‘D’ men.
“You can argue he’s the best centreman in the league, in my opinion. He’s like a power centreman, which is kind of the new rage in hockey. I think he’s got a bright future.”
For Haase, having family in the crowd wasn’t his only motivation to be the overtime catalyst Sunday.
With a 2-1 lead on the board midway through the third period, the 6-foot-2 power forward ultimately scored the primary assist on the tying goal for Sicamous as his errant pass sprung Danny O’Donnell in alone on Tyson Brouwer for the game-tying goal.
“Don’t pass to the other team for breakaways,” Haase said of the greatest lesson he took from Sunday’s win.
“I let the second goal in. That was purely my fault.”
The tying goal from O’Donnell eliminated the Nitros’ second one-goal advantage of the game, which had been conveniently provided by Taber, Alta., product Austyn Moser less than two minutes earlier.
Veteran 20-year-old Eric Buckley opened the scoring in the first period and Eagles defenceman Alex Astasiewicz rounded out the scoring with a second-period tally.
Brouwer turned aside 22 shots for his KIJHL leading 15th win of the season, while Pauwels was rock solid on 32 of 35 shots in the Eagles’ net.
Friday night’s loss saw the Dynamiters surrender a 2-0 lead as the Ghostriders scored three consecutive to steal the bonus point.
Nitros captain Jason Richter opened the scoring in the first period, before Trevor Van Steinburg doubled the advantage early in the third.
After that, Fernie captain Cole Keebler took over, spurring the visitors to victory.
The 20-year-old native of Calgary set up Zach Befus for the ‘Riders first goal, before knotting the game with 2:07 to play in regulation.
Finally, Keebler completed the comeback win for Fernie by depositing a power-play marker into the back of the net in overtime.
“We’ve got to learn to take everyone in this league serious this time of year,” Bancks said. “This league improves. Every team improves.
“It gets better and you can’t take anybody lightly. You have to strive to get better.
“I don’t want anybody to be able to outwork us.”
The weekend brought about KIJHL debuts for a trio of Nitros affiliate players (AP).
Friday, 16-year-old Terrell Clarricoates (Cranbrook) and 15-year-old Caige Sterzer (Kimberley) made their Dynamiter debuts, while Rylan D’Etcheverrey (Kimberley) skated as an AP Sunday.
The Dynamiters will get back to work this week when they travel to Invermere to face the Columbia Valley Rockies (14-13-0-0) Friday before hosting the Spokane Braves (4-19-0-4) Saturday at the Civic Centre.