The Kimberley Dynamiters played to a crowd of 575 fans at the Cranbrook Memorial Arena on Friday night.

The Kimberley Dynamiters played to a crowd of 575 fans at the Cranbrook Memorial Arena on Friday night.

Nitros explode after rough Cranbrook night

Kimberley implodes at Memorial Arena on Friday, before bouncing back in a big way on Saturday in Invermere.

Josh Lockhart

The Kimberley Dynamiters had a busy weekend with 24 goals being scored over two games. The Dynamiters lost to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 9-2, but then bounced back with an 11-2 win over the Columbia Valley Rockies.

On Friday, the Nitros faced the Nitehawks at a ‘neutral’ venue, the Cranbrook Memorial Arena. However, this venue has never boded well for the Nitros, as it was the former home to the Cranbrook Colts, a huge rival to the Dynamiters when both teams competed in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League.

The Colts’ last game was a game seven league victory over the Dynamiters, a game that Nitros head coach and general manager Derek Stuart was on the losing end of.

“Myself and [assistant coach] Jeff Keiver played many games in this arena,” Stuart said. “Definitely had many battles in this arena. It’s not a rink that I am very fond of, based on the 90’s playing against the Colts.”

The Dynamiters even used the Colts’ old dressing room and could see the Colts winning banners towering over the ice surface. Needless to say, the Cranbrook hockey gods were not on Kimberley’s side.

With 575 fans in attendance, Nitros forward Chase Miller got them into the game as early as he could as he scored just after the two-minute mark. After that, it was all Beaver Valley.

“It just snowballed [even though] we tried to control it,” Stuart said. “We tried everything we could as a coaching staff. It’s tough to stop that snowball.”

The Nitehawks scored six in a row before Joe Karpyshyn scored in the third period. But the Nitehawks kept coming and scored another three after that, for a total of nine goals scored by eight different players.

The Dynamiters left the Memorial Arena embarrassed and with their heads down.

“Hopefully, it could be a good thing to be humbled,” Stuart said “Any time that you get your ass whooped like that, you either have to learn from it or it is going to happen again. This could be a good thing.”

It certainly seemed like the latter, as the Nitros went into Invermere and posted an 11-2 victory over the Rockies. While Stuart was pleased with the win, he feels the Dynamiters had not learned their lesson fully.

“We haven’t completely learned our lesson from the Beaver Valley game,” he said. “To the players’ credit, they did learn quite quickly to play consistently, especially in the last 40 minutes. [That] was some of the best hockey we have played.

“We did everything hard, we made sure we were smart with the puck in all three zones, really limited their opportunities to get scoring chances.  We still have a lot of work to do in terms of being able to compete for 60 minutes. At the same time, the players did an excellent job taking the first step.”

After 20 minutes, the Dynamiters were tied with the Rockies at two, despite firing 21 shots on the Rockies goalie.

In the next 40 minutes, the Dynamiters piled up an astounding nine goals, with Chase Miller taking the lead with three goals and two assists.

“For the coaches, we were more happy to see the players doing the right things, playing the right way, taking that first step,” Stuart said. “Whether they scored or not, it’s great that we got those nine goals in the last 40 minutes, but those were a direct result of doing things right, managing the puck, and shooting pucks.”

After two very polarizing games, the Dynamiters look forwards to their next opponent on Wednesday, the Nelson Leafs (16-16-0-4).

“Our mantra is to focus on our next opponent,” Stuart said. “We have a few things to work on — our consistency in terms of playing hard all the time, and when we do that we can compete with anybody.”

Puck drop is at 8 pm in Nelson at the Nelson Community Complex.

MATCH STICKS: The Dynamiters added forward Cooper Page (’98) from the Okotoks Oilers (AJHL). As a result of the addition, defensemen Drew Van Den Bosch (’98) was traded to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings (VIJHL). Cody Campbell was recognized as the Kimberley Dynamiters December Player of the Month. George Bertoia, Brandon Langridge, Garreth Osmar and Harrison Risdon remain out of the line up due to suspension.