The Kimberley Dynamiters played in a winner-take-all game five with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Friday night, but failed to reach the KIJHL finals after losing 5-2 in Fruitvale.
The Nitros had made it to the KIJHL finals for the past two seasons in a row, going through the Nitehawks to get there, but were blocked in round three.
It didn’t take long for the ‘Hawks to get their 350 fan capacity crowd going, with forward Tyler Ghirardosi scoring a mere two and a half minutes into the game.
It soon became apparent that Ghirardosi was on a one-man mission to advance his team to the next round as he scored his second at three minutes later, and then his hat-trick goal at the midway mark of the first period.
“Unfortunately, we had three missed assignments or bad shifts that ended in the back of our net,” said Nitros head coach and general manager Derek Stuart. “Three simple mistakes that they made us pay for.”
The Dynamiters did their best to keep up, however, with Devon Langelaar scoring his second of the playoffs and Nolan Kurylo putting in his 10th of the playoffs before the end of the opening frame.
“That’s how we have been all year, we don’t quit,” Stuart said. “Our resiliency has been there all season long.”
The Nitehawks wouldn’t go away, though, and the team scored their fourth of the period, taking a 4-2 lead into the second period.
Despite being doubled on the scoreboard, Stuart was very pleased with his team’s early play.
“As weird as it may sound, I thought that was our best first period of the entire series,” he said. “We outshot them, we had more scoring chances, and we scored two goals in their rink.”
Both teams would halt all scoring in the second period. The Dynamiters kept pressing but had a tough time finding a way to beat the Nitehawks and their goalie, Tallon Kramer.
“Despite the score being 4-2 we had a chance to win, and they believed it,” Stuart said. “We just couldn’t get that third one. If we [had], I really believe we would’ve been able to tie it up.”
In the third period, with just under nine minutes left, the Nitehawks added their fifth goal of the game on the power play.
“After they got their fifth goal, the effort was still there [and] as impressive as that was, everyone saw the writing on the wall,” Stuart said, saying they tried to end their year with class. “We tried to get Colapaolo, Hozjan and Lassiter out there as much as possible.”
But the emotion of losing started taking over and weighing on everyone.
“The last couple of minutes it was tough to see the boys faces,” the coach said. “It’s two minutes that no coach or player likes to experience.”
It was a hard fought loss as the third time was the charm for the Nitehawks and their 5-2 victory advanced them to the KIJHL finals against the Chase Heat.
Officiating, however, ending up being a factor in the series’ result, according to Stuart.
Throughout the course of the series, the Nitros were handed 68 minutes worth of penalties compared to the Nitehawks 32. This included four 10-minute misconducts and one game misconduct.
“I’m really confused as to why a ref would do that to a young kid and make him miss 10 minutes of the game,” Stuart said. “[Although] those don’t have an effect on the outcome of the game, it does impact the game at that time. It hurt [us to] not to have [players] for 10 minutes.”
Even though the final loss hurts, the Nitros can hold their heads high knowing that they accomplished a lot more than anyone expected.
“I am most proud of how the players came together and competed and battled as a team,” Stuart said. “They were, in my opinion, a true team.”
MATCH STICKS: The Nitros finished the series with injuries. Harrison Risdon received a concussion in game two. Tyler Van Steinburg broke his clavicle in game two. The Nitros conducted exit interviews this past Sunday, and Stuart is hopeful for more returnees next season.