Kimberley Dynamiters forward Brandt Bertoia clears a puck from in front of the net during the 2016-17 season.

Kimberley Dynamiters forward Brandt Bertoia clears a puck from in front of the net during the 2016-17 season.

Kimberley Dynamiters fired up for series against Ghostriders

Kimberley Dynamiters aim for third straight KIJHL finals appearance as they kick off first-round action against Fernie arch-rivals.

Josh Lockhart

The Kimberley Dynamiters open their best-of-seven games playoff series against the Fernie Ghostriders tonight.

The Riders and Nitros are familiar opponents having played each other eight times during the regular season. The teams split the series 4-4 overall, with both teams going 3-1 at home and 1-3 on the road. The Riders just edged the Dynamiters in scoring at 32-31.

Despite a 12-point difference in the standings in favour of the Nitros, the series is lining up to be one of the KIJHL’s most evenly matched first round series.

Both teams are entering the playoffs after defeating the league-leading Beaver Valley Nitehawks, both are on winning streaks, both have leading scorers that just passed the 50-point plateau — Chase Miller with 51 while Fernie’s Mitch Titus has 5 — and both teams sport save percentages of 0.898.

And that’s just to name a few of the evenly matched statistics.

With all the excitement, head coach and general manager Derek Stuart knows that finding the motivation to play Fernie will come naturally.

“The motivation shouldn’t be a problem at all,” Stuart said. “There are a few things that Fernie does really well that we need to be aware of and try to stop but there aren’t going to be any surprises come Friday. We need to play our game.”

While Stuart knows that the teams are evenly matched, he doesn’t want to look back at anything that happened before the playoffs.

“It’s a new season starting now [and] we are 0-0,” he said. “Anything that happens in the regular season is out the window now.”

With a clean-slate mentality and confidence, the Dynamiters begin their pursuit of their third KIJHL finals appearance in a row tonight.

Game one and tomorrow’s game two are at the Kimberley Civic Centre at 7 p.m., before heading to Fernie for games three and four on Monday and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

MATCH STICKS: Garreth Osmar is suspended for two games and will return on Monday. The Ghostriders have three players listed as injured: Keegan Kingwell, Kevin Pierce, and Kyle Haugo.