All good things must come to an end.
Goaltender Joseph Mcleod and the Castlegar Rebels made sure of that Tuesday night at the Kimberley Civic Centre as they put a halt to the Kimberley Dynamiters’ 13-game win streak with a 3-1 victory.
“I think we just lost our focus [in the third period],” said Jerry Bancks, head coach of the Kimberley Dynamiters, Tuesday night. “We had the puck — on all of their goals — between the hash marks and the blueline. You don’t get it out and you let the team down. We did that three times, I believe.
“To be honest, for 50 minutes I was probably more pleased with how we played tonight. Their goalie played phenomenal. In the 13-game win streak, we won some games we should have lost and [Tuesday], we lost one we should’ve won.”
Mcleod, as Bancks acknowledged, was most certainly the difference-maker Tuesday night. By the time final buzzer rang, the 6-foot-2 native of Kelowna had turned aside 40 shots to backstop the Rebels to their 14th victory of the season.
With Mcleod doing his thing, the Rebels took advantage of a couple turnovers in Nitros territory to turn the tables on the hosts in the third period.
On both occasions, it was 20-year-old veteran Darren Medeiros inflicting the damage.
First, the 5-foot-11 native of Castlegar cashed in on a power-play opportunity with 6:22 to go in regulation after the Dynamiters bench was caught with too many men on the ice.
Snapping a quick shot from the left wall, Medeiros beat Nitros goaltender Mitch Traichevich to tie the game 1-1.
Less than three minutes, Medeiros stole a puck at even strength and fired a great shot — once again from the left side — beating Traichevich for a 2-1 Rebels lead with only 3:58 remaining in regulation.
Bancks managed to get Traichevich to the bench for the extra attacker as time ticked down and it was Rebels forward Lindan Caillou finding the back of the gaping cage to thrust the dagger through the heart of the Nitros 13-game winning streak.
Though the Dynamiters’ 13-game winning streak ended and brought about an extended close-door conversation between coaching staff and players, not all was bad on a Tuesday night at the Civic Centre.
An early surprise for fans saw Nitros captain Jason Richter take to the ice for warmups, before being penned into the lineup Tuesday night.
Richter, 19, had missed the previous two games with an upper-body injury suffered Oct. 27 at Golden and was not expected to be available Tuesday night.
“It’s pretty tough to watch in the stands, you get so excited up there,” Richter said Tuesday. “We won both those games, so I had no problems sitting out, getting healthy. I had to make sure I was healthy before I came back. I felt good tonight.
“Kind of knowing my shoulder was just a little bit sore going into [Tuesday’s] game, but I’m not going to back down from any hits or anything. It felt fine.”
It didn’t take long for the heart and soul of the Nitros to make his presence felt.
After the two teams battled through nearly 40 minutes of scoreless hockey, the 5-foot-8 spitfire put an end to the lack of offense with Rebels forward Matthew Lambert serving a two-minute minor for tripping.
Parked in his usual spot at the right point on the power play, Richter wheeled towards the top of the circle before snapping a quick shot that eluded Mcleod on the high glove side.
The goal, Richter’s 13th of the campaign, gave the Dynamiters a 1-0 lead with 2:25 to play in the second period. Unfortunately for the hosts, that’s all the offence they’d muster Tuesday night.
“All streaks have to end somewhere,” Richter said.
“We’ve just got to be going for 60 minutes. Jerry [Bancks] even said this was bound to happen. If this doesn’t happen, we’re not going to be where we want to be in February. We’ve just got to learn how to bounce back. Every team loses. It comes down to how we bounce back.”
The narrow margin on the scoreboard through 40 minutes of play could be largely credited to Mcleod’s watch between the pipes for the Rebels.
The Dynamiters maintained control of the game for the bulk of both periods and the shot clock reflected just that.
After the opening 20 minutes of play, a 12-5 shot margin was on the clock and after 40 minutes, the gap had grown to 28-9.
At the other end of the rink, Traichevich might not have been consistently busy, he had to come up big at times, the biggest stop of which came midway through the third period.
After a bouncing puck made its way past Nitros defenceman Justin Meier, Rebels forward Ed Lindsey found himself in alone on Traichevich with a brilliant opportunity to tie the game.
But there was nothing there for the 18-year-old Castlegar forward as Traichevich shut the door before kicking the rebound out of harms way.
Meanwhile, Mcleod went save for save with Traichevich and then some, including in the third period.
With defenceman Carson Wornig serving an elbowing minor, Nitros forward Sawyer Hunt burst down the left wing, snapping a quick shot to the low glove side of Mcleod. But as he did all night, the 18-year-old Rebels puck-stopper flashed the leather to cooly kill another scoring opportunity and slow play.
For the Dynamiters (16-2-0-2), Tuesday marked only the team’s second regulation loss of 2015-16.
For the Rebels (14-6-1-0), Tuesday’s victory pulled them within a point of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks (14-4-1-1) for first place in the Neil Murdoch Division.
Next up, the Dynamiters host the Kamloops Storm (14-4-0-1) Friday night in a rematch of last season’s KIJHL championship.
“We’re pretty pumped up,” Richter said looking forward to Friday. “They’ve got a pretty fast team, a pretty good team and pretty young this year. Hopefully we can get our veterans going and show that we have some experience here, pop a few in the net and get the win.”
Friday’s tilt between the Dynamiters and Storm is set for 7 p.m. at the Kimberley Civic Centre.
Montana’s Cookhouse Three Stars:
1) G Joseph Mcleod, Castlegar Rebels (40 saves)2) F Darren Medeiros, Castlegar Rebels (2G)3) F Jason Richter, Kimberley Dynamiters (1G)