The weather outside may be way below freezing, but tonight at the Kimberley Civic Centre, the hockey is going to be red hot.
The Dynamiters are hosting the first of the annual holiday home-and-home games against the Fernie Ghostriders, and with both teams coming off a week of hockey deprivation, it should be an exciting night for the hometown crowd.
Despite already having clinched a KIJHL playoff berth with 46 points — good enough for second in the Eddie Mountain division and only two points behind the Creston Valley Thunder Cats for first — the Dynamiters have a losing record against the Nitros so far this season.
Fernie has a 3-1 record over Kimberley through their first four of eight meetings and handed the Nitros their only home loss all year when they beat them 2-1 in their season opener.
The Nitros, however, have pre-Christmas momentum on their side. They’re riding a six-game winning streak with decisive victories over Columbia Valley and Nelson still like fresh in their mind from the last time they played on December 16 and 17.
The Ghostriders, on the other hand, lost their final game before the break as they were thumped 7-4 by the powerhouse Thunder Cats. Fernie has otherwise been very competitive in the month of December with three regulation wins, an overtime win, a tie, and a loss.
Goal-scoring should be aplenty as the two divisional rivals face-off in two straight games. The Nitros and ‘Riders are second and fifth, respectively, in total goals scored with 137 and 125 tallies so far this year.
Michael Titus leads the Fernie squad in points with 37 in 30 games, while Chase Miller is the Nitros new scoring leader with 33 points in 30 games, following the departure of Korbyn Chabot to the BCHL Trail Smoke Eaters earlier this month.
Newly acquired forward Nolan Kurylo should be a player to watch for the Dynamiters — he has 12 points in only 12 games with the team — and ‘Riders defenceman Alex Cheveldave can create chances from the backend and will look to add to his 27 points from the first 30 games of the season.
In net, the Dynamiters have two reliable Codys. Cody Campbell has been impressive this year with 8 wins, 2 shutouts and a .915 save percentage through 11 games. Cody Call was brilliant in his debut against the Columbia Valley Rockets on December 16, stopping 32 shots in a 6-3 win, and should get even better as he adjusts to his new team.
The ‘Riders starting goaltender Brandon Butler is listed as injured heading into the back-to-back games — he made 37 saves in the team’s last victory over the Nitros — but backup Brandon Youngson is a solid potential replacement with 4 wins in 11 games.
Puck drop at the Civic Centre will take place at 7 p.m. tonight and 7:30 p.m in Fernie on Thursday.
MATCH STICKS: Due to a double booking in Kimberley at the Civic Centre, the Dynamiters will be playing their home game against Beaver Valley on January 6 in Cranbrook at the Memorial Arena.