The Kimberley Dynamiters finished the weird month of November with a win and a loss.
A total of 20 goals were scored during their two games as the Nitros had a lopsided 8-2 victory over the Columbia Valley Rockies, followed by a 6-4 loss to the Fernie Ghostriders.
It was the first time this season that the Rockies have come to play at the Civic Centre. The Dynamiters have only lost one game at home and continued their impressive performance in their barn on Friday night.
Dynamiters Captain Ryan Hozjan, who was the home star of the game with two goals and an assist, doesn’t know why the team performs differently at home and on the road.
“I don’t think it should be [different at home] but it has been.”
The Nitros had a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission with goals from Connor Kendall and Nicholas Ketola.
Ketola continued with his hot hand as he helped build the Nitros lead, scoring the third goal early in the middle frame. The Dynamiters later scored their fourth and fifth goals 10 seconds apart with Korbyn Chabot and Ryan Hozjan scoring in quick succession.
Kimberley added three more goals from Caige Sterzer, Hozjan, and Garreth Osmar to take home a commanding 8-2 victory. Mitch Traichevich made 23 saves for his ninth win of the season in front of 584 fans.
Head coach and general manager of the Dynamiters, Derek Stuart, felt that the team worked hard against the Rockies.
“Something we have been asking our guys to do is to establish their work ethic first, so we are able to do other things,” he said. “I think we did that again at the start. From the first shift, our work ethic was excellent.”
But he also felt the team rallied behind each other.
“This team does a really good job of feeding off of each other whether it is a hit or a blocked shot or a goal or whatever it may be. The team builds off the energy that it creates for itself. [Friday] was another example of that, we got a goal and the next line pairing that went out wanted to contribute and get a goal as well. It was a great job by the team feeding off each other’s energy.”
“I though we came prepared to play these guys because I don’t think we have in the past. We came out and showed them what we can actually do,” said Ketola, who was recently shifted to centre and had two goals and an assist on Friday. “Playing with my linemates helped me get those goals. They gave me a lot of breaks to put the puck in the net, that really helped out.
“I thought it was pretty solid,” Hozjan agreed. “I mean we haven’t had strong games against them in the past. It was good to show them what we are capable of.”
My line was working hard all night. We were all getting chances and buried a few. It was good.”
The Dynamiters then shifted their focus to their division rival: the Fernie Ghostriders.
The majority of the game was even, with both teams jockeying for ice. The Nitros felt cheated of an early 3-0 lead when a goal was disallowed.
That wasn’t the only adversity that the team faced. During the middle frame, a whopping 82 minutes worth of penalties were handed out. This resulted in the Nitros having to play with less than an ideal amount of bodies.
“We had a short bench with George Bertoia having to leave because of injury and three other players got game misconducts. I’m still not sure why they were kicked out, or [why] Fernie’s [players were] for that matter.”
“It’s just a matter of taking short shifts and keeping really really simple,” Stuart said on surviving the situation. “When we did that, we managed to control the game.”
It was in the final ten minutes of the third that the game was decided. Up to that point, the Nitros had four goals — from Osmar, James Rota, Chabot, and Ketola — but they were tied at four with the Riders.
“During the TV timeout in the third, we told the guys [that] whoever made the least amount of unforced errors in the last nine minutes would win it. Unfortunately, on their winning goal, it was an unforced error [on our part].”
The Riders then followed up on another error and took the game 6-4 in front of the 1,036 fans in attendance at the Fernie Memorial Arena.
“A lot of teams can probably say this [but] a lot of the times [when] we give up goals it’s because of our own miscues or errors with the puck,” Stuart said. “That was a major issue [Saturday], mistakes with the puck or in coverage, ended up in the back of the net. We need to do a better job of making them earn their scoring chances and goals — when we do that, we are really tough to score against.
“It’s just a matter of taking better care of pucks in our own zone and making simple plays instead of trying to do something special.”
The Dynamiters will now prepare for a rematch of this past weekend’s games as they play the Ghostriders in Fernie on Friday and then host the Rockies on Saturday.
“The only thing we need to do differently [next weekend] is [manage our game] when there is adversity. When there was adversity [Saturday] night we didn’t do a very good job at managing it. We have to [be better at that].”
MATCH STICKS: Bryce Salverda (’98) has retired from hockey. With his departure, James Rota (’98) has permanently been placed on defence. Cody Campbell was listed as injured, so Jaren Hall (’01) served as backup.
For up-to-date Kimberley Dynamiter information visit: www.kimberleydynamiters.net/blog. Also follow Josh on twitter @joshuaklockhart.