Opening weekend a success for Nitros

Kimberley split games with Fernie Ghostriders, Castlegar Rebels

Josh Lockhart

The Kimberley Dynamiters had a successful season opening weekend in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, going 1-1.

Nitro’s first game and home opener was against Division rivals, the Fernie Ghostriders.

Head Coach & General Manager Derek Stuart shared by phone on Sunday, “all things considered, for not having five players, playing essentially most of the game with three forwards on defense; I think things went really, really well.

“The guys battled hard and they competed. Their compete level and how they worked, was very, very impressive.”

It was the early season jitters that got the best of them, when the Riders opened the scoring 32 seconds into the game.

Fernie then had a 2-0 lead in the third before Kimberley got on the board. Local-boy, Caige Sterzer, banged home a rebound.

Sterzer was so excited to be in the game, and even more thrilled to score, “I was so pumped to be on the ice with my team on the home opener. We have a great new bunch of guys and coaching staff.

“I was honoured to score my first goal in front of friends, family and the home town.

For 59 minutes it was an entertaining and close game for the 607 in attendance at the Civic Centre. But the game finished in Fernie’s favour as they won 2-1 and led 29-21 in shots.

“Having 600 plus people there Friday, the boys fed off the energy of the crowd.” Stuart recalled.

“For a young team having their home opener against one of the pre-season favourites to win the league, the nerves were high, they were scored on the first, but they did very well.”

The Dynamiters followed up their one-goal loss on Friday with a one goal win on Saturday, defeating the Castlegar Rebels 4-3 in front of 351 fans.

In a moment of déjà vu, the Nitro’s gave up an early goal to the Rebels.

“For some reason, we are having a tough time at the start of a game and also the start of a period.

“Three of the five goals we have given up this year have come within the first minute of a period. We need to figure that out right away and fix it.”

The Nitro’s responded with three goals in the second frame.

“It was very encouraging to see from a coaching standpoint. Because, if we can establish that as our model for the year it is a very good foundation.”

Korbyn Chabot set up Chase Miller for the first goal, and then Miller returned the favour and helped Chabot get the next goal. Sterzer restored the Dynamiters lead when he poked a loose puck in.

The resilient Rebels wouldn’t go away and tied the game 35 seconds into the third period.

At the midway point, Sterzer found James Farmer who was busting in on a developing two-on-one with Nicholas Ketola. Farmer was able to get Ketola the puck, and had no issue giving the Dynamiters a 4-3 lead. That was the score until the final buzzer sounded.

“It was awesome to be able to contribute to our teams first win of the season.” Sterzer shared. “Now we just have to have a good week of practice and carry it on to next weekend against Golden and Fernie.”

The Dynamiters return to the ice this Friday when they host the Golden Rockets at the Civic Centre, game time is 7pm; and then host the Fernie Ghostriders in a rematch on Saturday at 7pm.

Match Sticks:  Ruslan Katsnelson recorded his first KIJHL win in his first KIJHL game as he turned aside 24 of the 27 shots Saturday… The Nitro’s released forwards Wyatt Fleming and Terrell Clarricoates on Sunday… Stuart was absent from behind the bench on Saturday. “I got suspended for dressing an ineligible player Friday for two games. I thought he was approved, but he was pending. That was my bad. It was my mistake. I will take ownership of that.”