The Kimberley Dynamiters are in the driver’s seat of the KIJHL championship and headed for Kamloops with a 2-0 series lead following a 6-3 victory over the Kamloops Storm Sunday night.
Braden Saretsky continued his torrid scoring pace, registering three goals and an assist to help fuel the Nitros Sunday night.
After scoring 19 goals in 44 regular-season games split between the Summerland Steam and Kimberley Dynamiters, the 18-year-old native of West Kelowna has been lights out in the post-season, leading the KIJHL with 16 goals through 18 games.
“I’ve just been shooting the puck lots on the power play. I’ve been getting good opportunities and I’ve been lucky enough to bury most of them,” Saretsky said Sunday night. “I have to give it to my teammates as well. [Jared] Marchi has probably assisted on half or more of all them on the power play.”
Saretsky tallied his first of the night with a second-period marker that gave his team a 3-1 advantage.
In tight, the 5-foot-11 forward patiently out-waited Storm goaltender Jacob Mullen before finding a hole high and beating the 20-year-old puck-stopper.
Saretsky wrapped up his hat-trick performance with a pair of blasts from the point, both assisted by Marchi.
The first came with the two teams skating four-on-four during a penalty-filled third period. The last tally found twine midway through the final period on the man advantage.
Saretsky’s hat-trick marker gave the home team a 6-2 lead.
Outside of Saretsky’s spectacular performance, the officiating took centre stage in Game 2, particularly in the third period.
Tempers flared on both sides as the officials lost control of Game 2 before trying desperately to reel it back in.
“Sometimes you want to say something, but you’ve got to have a second voice in the back of your head telling you not to do it,” Saretsky said of the high emotions. “You’ve just got to think about the team, think about the boys and what we’re going through.
“Everyone is thinking the same thing and no one is saying it. You’ve got to keep your composure and leave the talking to the coaches.”
A grand total of 40 penalty minutes were handed out in the third period of Game 2. Through the five periods previous, only 10 penalty minutes had been handed out, collectively. The discouraging part of it all was, despite the penalties doled out, there were plenty more that went uncalled as the playing surface became an all-out battlefield.
“I don’t know why it transpired the way it did,” said Kimberley Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks. “It is what it is. It’s hockey and sometimes it gets like that. I try to tell my guys to stay calm and skate away from all the stuff.
“Don’t lose sight of the prize. One of our mottos is ‘Don’t get too high, don’t get too low.’ You’ve just got to control your emotions. I’m a big believer that a lot of wasted energy can go into getting into screaming, yelling, pushing and shoving. Just control your emotions and get back to the bench. Sometimes you’ve got to take a punch for the team to be successful.
“Get on the bench, take some deep breaths and get ready for your next shift. That’s all that really matters is your next shift. Being able to skate away from some of that stuff, you’ll find some of the best players there are anywhere are people that can do that. They play hard, they play tough, but they control their emotions.”
Storm forward Ian Chrystal and defenceman Alex Winters had their nights end early as both were tagged with 10-minute misconducts during the final five minutes of regulation.
“It’s playoff hockey and the refs are going to call it the way they want to see it called,” Storm head coach Ed Patterson told Adam Williams of Kamloops This Week. “We were just a little slow to adapt to what was being let go and once we got on that page, they backed down. We’ll see what happens come Game 3.”
After burning Mullen for three goals on 16 shots in Game 1, the Dynamiters took the onslaught one step further in Game 2 Sunday night, chasing the native of Coeur D’Alene, Id., in the second period.
“He’s a big goalie, so you’ve got to get his eyes. You’ve got to make sure you get screens,” Saretsky said of chasing Mullen. “Shots from the point work a lot on him because we’re taking away his eyes and he can’t see much. We’ve got to keep doing that.”
Mullen surrendered four goals on 18 shots in Game 2, giving way to 17-year-old Bailey De Palma after Alex Rosolowsky put the hosts ahead 4-1 with a power-play goal at 15:54 of the second period.
“Give them credit, they’ve buried their chances when they’ve had them,” Patterson said. “Our goaltending hasn’t been sharp, our defensive zone hasn’t been sharp. Basically, we got a little cocky after beating Osoyoos, thought we were top dog, and they’ve come here and worked hard.”
The play that ended Mullen’s night was a particularly ugly one as the Storm goaltender punched a rebound out into the slot where Rosolowsky collected the puck and deposited it into the gaping cage.
Dynamiters forward Keenan Haase started the scoring midway through the first period, sending a quick release past Mullen’s high blocker side.
With time winding down in the opening period, Kimberley defenceman James Jowsey fired a long, soft point shot towards the net. The puck found its way through a maze of legs before squeaking through Mullen short side for a 2-0 Dynamiters lead.
The Storm found life late in the first period as affiliate player Max Patterson banged home a rebound on the power play to cut into the Kimberley lead.
Patterson wrapped the night with a goal and an assist.
Kamloops carried that energy into the second period, but the tide soon turned as Saretsky beat Mullen for his first of the night.
Another late power-play goal gave the Storm life heading into the break as Mitch Friesen unleashed a blast that beat Brouwer over the shoulder to make it 4-2.
Friesen added his second of the night to round out the scoring, tallying an unassisted power-play goal with 3:11 to play in the third period.
Nitros goaltender Tyson Brouwer made 25 saves for his 14th victory of the post-season.
De Palma finished the night with nine stops on 11 shots.
A total of 978 fans took in Sunday’s action at the Kimberley Civic Centre.
The Storm were back on the bus and returning home to Kamloops immediately following Game 2. The Dynamiters are scheduled to leave for Kamloops Monday morning.
Game 3 goes Tuesday night at McArthur Park Arena in Kamloops.
Notes: The Dynamiters power play went 2-for-7 Sunday while the Storm were 3-for-6…
The Townsman/Bulletin has you covered for the KIJHL championship as sports editor Taylor Rocca will be headed to Kamloops for Games 3 & 4. For live updates, follow Taylor on Twitter (@taylorrocca) and keep eyes on dailytownsman.com/kijhl/ for nightly game stories.