The Nitros opened the KIJHL playoffs with a bang, defeating the Fernie Ghostriders 5-2 in Kimberley on Tuesday night.
Jason Richter led the way with two goals and two assists, while Eric Buckley also notched a pair, while Bryce Perpelitz also added a goal. The Ghostriders responded with efforts from Josh Teves and Jon Thompson.
Dynamiter goaltender Jeremy Mousseau made 24 saves for the win, while Phoenix Logan-Hill stopped 20 shots in defeat.
Kimberley won the special teams battle, scoring twice in five chances, while shutting out the Ghostriders on five opportunities with the man-advantage.
Kimberley came out flying, with great puck possession and put the Ghostriders on their heels in their zone for much of the first period. Indeed, roughly eight minutes passed before the first stoppage of play in the game.
However, a defensive lapse in Kimberley territory allowed Teves to snap home a shot from the slot for a 1-0 lead after the first period.
“When they scored, we didn’t get down on the bench, we kept it positive, so it really helped bring everybody up,” said Nitro forward Jared Marchi.
Despite the early setback, head coach Jerry Bancks was happy with how his team came flying out of the gate.
“I thought we came out really strong,” said Bancks. “It was discouraging to be down 1-0, but in some ways—because we’ve had success against them, especially the last few games—I think it wakes the kids up.
“If we had been up 2-0, the next thing you know, it would’ve been 3-2 for them. So it was kind of a good little wake-up call for us to experience that, go through that and battle back.”
Kimberley also had a goal waved off in the first period, as the officials ruled that the net was off the moorings.
But Buckley managed to tie the game in the second period on the powerplay, poking the puck across the goal line after Logan-Hill made a save off a shot from the point.
Four minutes later, Richter wristed a shot over the shoulder of the Fernie goaltender at the right face-off circle to jump ahead for a 2-1 lead.
Not to be outdone, the Riders answered back, tying up the game as Thompson redirected a shot from the blue line at the halfway mark of the period.
The Dynamiters opened in up in the final frame, scoring three goals to skate away with the win.
“I think we’re in a little better shape than them, so on this bigger ice surface, it helps us out a lot if we stay wide and always keep our feet moving,” said Marchi.
Six minutes into the action, Buckley scored the go-ahead goal, taking advantage of a turnover in the Fernie zone and beating Logan-Hill.
Richter added some insurance on the powerplay, scoring from the slot after getting a slick feed from Buckley.
Perpelitz put his stamp on the scoresheet with just over two minutes remaining in the game, sniping the glove side after trailing the play and receiving a pass at the hash marks.
The Nitros will be missing Eric Buckley for Game 2 of the series in Fernie on Wednesday. Buckley was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for goaltender interference after driving hard to the net and running over Logan-Hill on a shorthanded attempt with 2:40 left on the clock.
The Dynamiters are also missing the services captain Darren Martin, who was suspended for three games after a staged fight with Fernie’s Aidan Geiger in the final game of the regular season. Fernie also has to do without Geiger for the same number of games.