The Kimberley Dynamiters opened the Kootenay Conference finals over the weekend with a split against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
Game one was played on Friday, and heavily favoured the hometown Beaver Valley Nitehawks. The ‘Hawks scored two early goals and then a third on a deflated Nitros team with 2:21 left in the first.
“We weren’t very good in the first and had a couple of unlucky bounces end up in our net,” said head coach and general manager Derek Stuart. “However, against a team like Beaver Valley one bad period can cost you a game.”
The Nitros would slow the Nitehawks’ relentless pace in the second before trading goals in the third. mBrandt Bertoia was the Nitros’ only goal scorer, as the team fell 4-1.
Despite being pulled after Beaver Valley’s fourth goal, Cody Campbell made 32 saves and was named the away star of the game.
In Saturday night’s sequel, even though the Nitehawks grabbed a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, the Dynamiters played a strong opening period.
“It was excellent at the start of the game,” Stuart said. “We got back to the mentality of focusing on your next shift, and nothing else. It was a big improvement [in] everything from the preparation, to the execution, to the communication.”
The Nitros stormed back in the second. Nolan Kurylo scored on the power play to tie the game, and NicHerringer scored with 70 seconds left in the second to give the Dynamiters a 2-1 lead.
Franco Colapaolo gave the Nitros a 3-1 lead as he potted an empty net goal but the Nitehawks wouldn’t go away though and scored with 31 seconds left.
Their comeback fell short, however, and Campbell was once again named the away star of the night turning aside 26 of 28 shots in a 3-2 win.
After the emotional win, the Dynamiters took Sunday as a long travel day. Speaking from the Kootenay Lake Ferry, Stuart explained that the team needed a rest.
“We [need to] have our rest, because we really need to continue to use our speed,” he said. “[Beaver Valley] had a tough time handling our speed and quickness [so] if we can continue to do that on our big ice it will bode well for us.
“We are excited to get home and be in front of our crowd and on our ice.”
The last time the Nitehawks paid a visit to the Kimberley Civic Centre was on March 21, 2016, for game five of the Kootenay Conference finals where just over 1,100 fans watched the Nitros win 3-1 to advance to the KIJHL finals.
Games three and four of the series are on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Centre, with game five heading back in Fruitvale if needed.
MATCH STICKS: The Osoyoos Coyotes won 6-5 in double OT on Sunday to take a 2-0 series lead over the Chase Heat in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference Finals.