Bryce Halverson made 45 saves to lead the Kimberley Dynamiters to a tense 3-2 win over the visiting Creston Valley Thunder Cats at the Civic Centre on Tuesday night.
Kimberley had a 3-1 lead until the final minute of the game, when the T-Cats scored with 57 seconds left to make it a close finish.
“It was a little nervous at the end there, just the last few seconds was a little scramble around the net, but we just got the puck out and cleared it from the net and it worked out,” said defenceman Isaac Schacher.
Tyson Klingspohn, Eric Buckley and Matt Gann scored for the Dynamiters, while Trevor Hanna and Jaiden Ward responded for the T-Cats.
Creston avoided penalties in the sin bin, while failing to convert on four power play opportunities.
Zach Straza, who manned the crease for the Thunder Cats, allowed three goals in 29 shots.
The Nitros got things going four minutes into the game, when Klingspohn picked up a loose puck at the side of the net and put it in to open the scoring.
Kimberley doubled the lead at the halfway mark of the period, when Buckley poked the puck across the line on a rebound.
Creston answered late in the frame when Trevor Hanna cut in from the wing, walking around a Nitro defenceman, and waiting out Halverson before stuffing the puck home.
The Dynamiters also kept the lead when Halverson denied Brady Ward on a breakaway.
“I thought Bryce held in there strong tonight,” said Jordan Foreman, who is stepping up as interim head coach following the resignation of bench boss Roman Vopat. “Obviously he faced a lot of shots, I think they were close to 50, 20 alone in the first period, and the first period is when you need to build some momentum and he held us in there.”
However, the Nitros regained a two-goal lead with five minutes to go in the second period, when Gann slapped a shot from the point that deflected a few times on its way to the back of the net.
Kimberley nearly had a bigger lead, as Taylor McDowell rang a shot off the post from the slot earlier in the frame.
It all came down to a tense final minute in the third period, as Jaiden Ward put a sharp angle shot into the net with a screen in front of Halverson.
Kimberley has also added two new defencemen in Tre Mason and Andrew Miller to the roster. Mason, 18, was picked up from the North Okanagan Knights, while Miller—also 18—comes via the Osoyoos Coyotes.
“Both those additions are going to be a big part of our team,” said Foreman.
Mason had an immediate impact, literally speaking, as he absolutely levelled T-Cats forward Tyler Akeroyd in an open ice hit in the third period.
“He’s a great puck moving defenceman, likes to throw the body around as I’m sure everybody saw in that one hit,” said Foreman.
The Nitros have pulled within two points of catching up to the Fernie Ghostriders, who lead the Eddie Mountain Division.