The Kimberley Dynamiters stunned the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Wednesday, coming back to seize Game 2 of the Kootenay Conference final, 4-2, and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Nitehawks had the Dynamiters down 2-0 in the third period, when the Nitros surged back to tie it with 1:47 remaining and take the lead with just 47 seconds left on the clock, sending the 813 Kimberley fans into a frenzy.
Dynamite forward Trey Doell broke down the left side into the Hawks zone and fired a shot on Nitehawks goalie Tallon Kramer who turned it aside, however, Jason Richter bolted by the defence, pounced on the rebound and chipped it past the glove of the Hawks goalie for the 3-2 lead.
“We worked hard, we did things simply, we forechecked intelligently and then as the game wore on we were less and less effective,” Nitehawks coach Terry Jones told Taylor Rocca from the Cranbrook Townsman. “We gave up their diagonal cross-ice pass and it started to wear on our defence a little bit. It’s a lack of discipline on our forwards part to do the job and finish the job. It’s disappointing because we had the game.”
The Nitehawks came out strong and jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Sam Swanson opened the scoring as the 18-year-old Fruitvale native took a pass in the slot, walked in and fired a quick shot, low blocker on Tyson Brouwer to give the visitors a 1-0 lead 6:13 into the game.
Then,with Kimberley defenceman Korbyn Chabot off for hooking, Bradley Ross sent a tough angle shot past Brouwer to give the Nitehawks a 2-0 advantage with 52 seconds left in the first period. B.V. fired 10 shots at Brouwer, while the Dynamiters managed seven at Kramer.
The score held up through 40 minutes, despite plenty of chances from either side. Kramer was unbeatable through two periods, highlighted by a huge save off an Eric Buckley breakaway, followed by a great reactionary stop on a redirected Kimberley point shot.
Kimberley came out desperate in the third, and after Hawks forward Jace Weegar was hauled down on a breakaway, Kimberley came right back to score and cut the lead to one. Sawyer Hunt tapped in the Nitros first goal after a Keenan Haase shot bounced off Kramer’s shoulder and trickled towards the goal line four minutes into the period.
The Hawks would bend a few times in the middle stanza, but Kramer came up big robbing Chabot of a sure goal into what looked like a wide-open net, until the Hawks goalie slid across and robbed him.
“Huge bounce back, he’s been terrific for us and he’s a great leader in our room,” Jones said of his goaltender. “I’m sorry we couldn’t finish it for him, because he deserved to get that win tonight.”
But Kimberley would not be denied, as Tanner Wit took a pass from Trevor Van Steinburg in the slot and wired a laser over the shoulder of the Hawks goalie to tie it at 2-2 with 1:47 remaining to set up Richter’s winner exactly 60 seconds later.
“It was outstanding,” said Dynamiter coach Jerry Bancks. “We haven’t been faced with that a lot this year, where we’ve had to come from behind, especially in the third [period]. Between periods, you tell the boys, ‘It’s up to you. Go do what you’ve got to do.’ They did it. It really shows good character on our part.”
Kimberley’s Van Steinburg scored into an empty net with 22 seconds remaining to ice it for the Dynamiters. Kimberley outshot B.V. 31-29 and went 0-for-5 on the power play, while the Hawks were 1-for-4.
Despite the loss, the play of the Hawks goaltender was a significant bright spot for the team, and with Brett Clark still on the sidelines, the Grande Prairie native will be relied on again if the Hawks are to mount a comeback.
The Kootenay Conference final resumes with Games 3 and 4 at the Hawks Nest in Fruitvale tonight and Saturday with the puck drop at 7:30 p.m.