If they don’t already know one another well, the Kimberley Dynamiters and Columbia Valley Rockies are about to become great acquaintances.
The Nitros and Rockies, Eddie Mountain Division rivals, meet three times in the next eight days, beginning Friday night at the Kimberley Civic Centre with a 7 p.m. puck drop.
“Hockey is kind of a funny game, but it is a game of fundamentals,” said Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks. “I’d like to sharpen up our passing and some of our basic fundamental skills.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing and [the Columbia Valley Rockies] just won a couple games. We want to get sharper in our fundamental skills.”
The Rockies roll into Kimberley on the strength of a two-game winning streak, having knocked off the Eddie Mountain Division-leading Fernie Ghostriders 5-3 Jan. 13, before dispatching the Nelson leafs 3-0 Jan. 16.
Despite the two-game winning streak, the Rockies find themselves out of the divisional playoff picture with 12 games remaining on the schedule.
On the other hand, the Dynamiters have clinched a playoff spot in the Eddie Mountain Division. All that remains to be determined is where that spot lands.
Heading into the weekend, the Nitros hold down second in the division, two points ahead of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, who hold one game in hand on their Kimberley rivals.
Mathematically, if the Dynamiters keep winning and they get some help from around the league, they could still catch the first-place Fernie Ghostriders.
“We talked about it, but I don’t think it really matters,” Bancks said. “I think we’d like to get second place. That’s more realistic.
“We set a goal when there were 20 games left, of trying to get 14 wins. Counting the [defaulted game], we’re well on our way to doing that. As a team, we still consider that a win. That’s what our goal is and we’re going to keep working towards that.”
A second-place finish in the division would land the Dynamiters home-ice advantage in the first round of the KIJHL playoffs.
The 20-game mark Bancks referred to began Dec. 16 — a 2-1 victory over the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.
Including that win, the Nitros are officially 7-2-1-0 with one defaulted game. If you include what was an 8-1 victory prior to being defaulted, the Dynamiters are 8-2-1-0 and six wins shy of their goal with nine games to go in the regular season.
Bancks expects to get a boost to his lineup this weekend after battling a slew of injury problems over the past couple months.
Defenceman Jonas Gordon is expected to make his return to the lineup and though he isn’t a lock to play, Jared Marchi is close to a return after suffering a lower-body injury in Fernie Dec. 29. That leaves only Marco Campenella (lower body) on the shelf.
After Friday’s game in Kimberley, the Nitros get the rest of the weekend off before heading to Invermere for a rematch with the Rockies Tuesday, Jan. 27.