The Kimberley Dynamiters completed their first three-game weekend and the results were much the same as they have been for the entire month of January: a win bookended by two losses.
The Dynamiters lost 5-3 to the Fernie Ghostriders on Thursday, then won in overtime 6-5 against the Columbia Valley Rockies, before losing 4-3 to the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Saturday. The Nitros ended the month with a 3-6 record.
“We are happy January is over, that’s for sure,” said head coach and general manager Derek Stuart. “It wasn’t the ideal month [and it] basically boils down to inconsistency.
“Even with the inconsistency [though], five of the six games we lost were close games that we had a chance to win [which] is encouraging as a coach. We weren’t playing our best hockey but still had opportunities to win games against top teams.”
Following the loss on Thursday to the Ghostriders, the Dynamiters travelled to Invermere to face the Rockies. The first 20 minutes were a nightmare for the Nitros as Columbia Valley took a commanding 3-1 lead. The lone Nitro goal was a fluttering point shot by George Bertoia.
“They are a lot harder to play in their arena then they seem to be in ours,” Stuart said. “They have definitely improved [since the start of the season].
“They came out hard in the first period and we did the opposite. After the first 20, we were really good.”
The Dynamiters began righting the ship as Chase Miller and Cody Lassiter would chip in goals, but the Rockies held onto a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes.
The Nitros came out soaring in the third scoring two quick goals by Nolan Kurylo and Brandt Bertoia, edging themselves a 5-4 lead.
With exactly eight minutes left the Rockies tied it at five, so it took 3-on-3 overtime for the teams to solve the game. Joe Karpyshyn scored the winner for Kimberley.
The Codys shared the net for the night, with Cody Call making eight saves, and Cody Campbell making 17 stops.
The Dynamiters then focused their attention towards the eighth and final meeting against the Thunder Cats, a last attempt to try to inch closer to the top spot in the Eddie Mountain Division.
The Dynamiters would learn quickly in this game, that it was Paxton Malone’s night. Malone opened the scoring for the Thunder Cats, then Karpyshyn tied it. Malone scored again and then Franco Colapaolo tied the game.
In the second period, the Cats finally scored without Malone — to take a 3-2 lead — and the Nitros didn’t have a response until the third period.
Brandon Langridge tied the game with 4:47 left in the third, and everyone felt the game was going to overtime, except Malone, who would score his third goal of the game 42 seconds later. The Dynamiters would pull out all of their tricks, but they were to no avail as the Cats hung on to their 4-3 lead and won the game.
Campbell made 21 saves in front of the 614 fans in attendance.
After the game, Stuart felt that the Nitros needed to cash in on their chances with more consistency.
“We need to bear down on our chances,” he said. “We had many opportunities to score more goals than we did.”
With January ending, Stuart feels his squad is beginning to focus more because the playoffs are closer to today than the holiday break. The Dynamiters had a second 10-day break after the Fernie Christmas series.
“We are getting better,” Stuart said. “I believe the way we are playing is becoming more consistent. The guys are starting to buckle down. We can now focus on our next opponent.”
The Nitros next game is at home against the Fernie Ghostriders on Friday, followed by a trip to Golden to face the Rockets on Saturday.
MATCH STICKS: Chase Miller, Garreth Osmar, and James Rota are all listed as day-to-day. Tyler Van Steinburg is only available now for home games due to a full course schedule at College of the Rockies. Chase Miller registered his team-leading 50th point.
For up-to-date Kimberley Dynamiter information visit: www.kimberleydynamiters.net/blog and follow Josh on twitter @joshuaklockhart.