The Kimberley Dynamiters were able to sweep their Christmas Classic series against the Fernie Ghostriders for the first time since 2011-12, with a 3-1 win at the filled to capacity Fernie Memorial Arena on Thursday night.
It took until the later half of the second period for either team to solve the goaltenders. Nitros forward Joe Karpyshyn would score the first goal of the game on the power play from Tyler Van Steinburg.
“Last night was a better start than it was Wednesday [but it] still wasn’t one of our better starts,” head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said. “We just progressively got better and better as the game wore on.
“We did an excellent job of silencing their crowd [and] our penalty kill was outstanding. We limited their scoring chances.”
Karpyshyn and Van Steinburg would team up for two more goals in the third period, putting in one each, to give the Dynamiters a commanding 3-0 lead with five minutes left in the game.
Ghostriders forward Nolan Lagace would end Cody Campbell’s campaign for a shutout with four minutes to go.
It was what happened in the last 30 seconds of the period, however, that stole the headlines.
Ghostriders leading scoring, Mitch Titus, was hit hard and play had to be stopped while he was helped off the ice. There was no call on the play as the hit was overlooked by the officials.
“There was an inadvertent hit on their top scorer. Our guys shoulder hit their guy in the arm. It was not intentional,” Stuart said. “The guy that was involved in the contact has 20 career penalty minutes — he’s our least dirty player. It was two guys caught in the same lane going top speed and ran into each other.
“Obviously in today’s hockey, when your best player gets hurt there is going to be retribution whether it’s a clean hit or not.”
However, the ‘Riders did not miss the play and took matters into their own hands when the puck dropped. An ensuing line brawl happened with 182 minutes worth of penalties called on the single stoppage.
10 players involved in the skirmish have received suspensions from the KIJHL including five Dynamiters. George Bertoia, Brandon Langridge and Garreth Osmar all received three-game suspensions for multiple fights in the same stoppage while Harrison Risdon received two games for kneeing and Caige Sterzer will be out for a game as the result of receiving a game misconduct in the last 10 minutes of the contest.
“They chose to instigate a line brawl the following whistle. We only had 2 players fight, 3 of our guys didn’t drop their gloves or throw a single punch,” Stuart said prior to the ruling. “The rule is clear if the team instigates a line brawl, the instigating coach and players get suspended. Hopefully the league follows the rules as they are stated in the supplement.”
The Nitros would leave the game in a theatrical manner as they won the game 3-1. Campbell made 35 saves for the win.
“The prime scoring chances Fernie did have, [Campbell] was excellent. Very square to the puck, very little rebounds,” Stuart said. “He was one of the main reasons that the score was zero heading into the third.
“At the same time, it gave our team a lot of confidence having our starting goalie in net. He performed like he always has.”
The win now puts the Kimberley Dynamiters in first place in the Eddie Mountain Division. The Nitros have a two point, and a two-win lead over the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.
However, for Stuart and the Nitros they were not focusing on Creston, they focused on beating Fernie.
“When we are not playing Creston, we don’t think of them at all. We are focusing on our opponent. Our goal was to put distance between us and Fernie.”