After back-to-back 7-2 wins this past weekend in Spokane and Grand Forks, the Kimberley Dynamiters have a rematch against the Braves and Border Bruins in their own barn as they come to town.
“We know that they will come in here hungry,” said head coach and general manager Derek Stuart. “Especially since both teams lost games last weekend.”
The Grand Forks Border Bruins (5-4-2-1) come to Kimberley on a three-game losing streak. However, they still boast two of the KIJHL’s leading scorers in Trey Mason and Dylan Haney.
The Spokane Braves (4-10-0-0) enter the weekend losing their past four in a row. They too have an offensive one-two punch with Paxton Malone and Mason Jones leading the league in points.
“We know a little bit more about them after seeing them first hand,” Stuart said. “There are a few things we may work on in practice. Most of our practice will be touching up things that we need to improve and focus mainly on ourselves.”
The Dynamiters are winners of their past two, and nine of their last ten, and enter the weekend as one of the hottest teams in the league.
Stuart credits the teams’ success to its depth.
“With the depth we have, everyone is getting a fair chunk of ice time. Everyone is relishing in their roles and finding ways to contribute, or an opportunity to contribute every game.
“We are going with the guys in each individual game that are producing or playing the way we want them to that game. The guys really appreciate that, and they are relishing the opportunity that they have every game.”
However, he feels there is some room for improvement.
“We need to improve our puck management in the offensive zone. We need to hold onto pucks a bit longer and protect them until we have a play … really focus on moving the puck in the offensive zone when we want to instead of being forced to.”
Prior to this weekend’s games, Stuart shuffled the roster up a bit.
“We viewed it as an opportunity to improve our team, any chance we have to improve ourselves, we are going to do it.”
The Dynamiters added goaltender Cody Campbell (’98). The Calgary native started the season as the backup for the Canmore Eagles (AJHL).
“He is very mobile and athletic. Has some good size. He has some experience as well; he took his Midget AAA team all the way to the Telus Cup two years ago. In any situation, he won’t panic.”
Campbell played last season with the Grand Prairie Storm Midget AAA. In 19 games he posted a .905 save percentage. He also dressed one game with the AJHL Grand Prairie Storm.
To make room for Campbell on the roster, the Nitro’s sent goaltender Ruslan Katsnelson (’97) to the Golden Rockets.
Then the Dynamiters added another Cody to the roster, defenseman Cody Lassiter (’96), acquiring him from the Princeton Posse.
“The trade with Lassiter, a 20-year-old defenceman, addresses a hole that we felt we had as a team and that we would like to add and the opportunity arose.”
Lassiter, from Bassano, Alberta, was serving as captain for the Posse, he brings leadership and experience to the team.
“He’s a bigger defenceman. He’s not flashy but he is very mobile, reliable, and smart with the puck.
“He is in his third year in the league, so he knows the league, and how to play the game. He will add to our top four defence.”
The roster moves, Stuart feels, “It improves our overall depth and experience. It makes us harder to play against.”
The Dynamiters host the Border Bruins Friday at the Civic Centre at 7p.m., followed by the Braves on Saturday at 7p.m.
MATCH STICKS: The Dynamiters currently carry a full roster of 25. However, 23 are playable as Bryce Salverda and Connor Kendall remain sidelined to injury.