It was competitive for two periods, but the Kimberley Dynamiters exploded for four goals in the final frame to coast to a 6-1 victory over the Beaver Valley Nitehawks to open the first game of the Kootenay Conference final on Tuesday night at the Kimberley Civic Centre.
Sawyer Hunt scored twice, while Dynamiters goaltender Tyson Brouwer was a brick wall in net, making 27 saves for the win. Kimberley scoring also came from Eric Buckley, Jason Richter, Tyler Van Steinburg and Jared Marchi.
Michael Pruss was the lone response from the Nitehawks, potting a shorthanded goal on a Kimberley turnover. Beaver Valley goaltender Tallon Kramer had a tough night, with 27 saves on 33 shots.
Nitro head coach Jerry Bancks praised his team’s effort.
“I was really pleased with our start to the game, I thought we carried the play in the first period,” Bancks said. “I thought our power play, we didn’t want to score badly enough, we let the goalie see too many pucks and at this level, goalies will save what they can see.
Second period, when they got the shorthanded goal, which is the first one we’ve given up all year, they kind of took it to us a little bit, but we weathered that storm thanks to Tyson Brouwer, who is a phenomenal goaltender.
“And the third period, I thought we took over and got through to their goalie and thought we played a really solid period.”
It was a goaltending battle between Brouwer and Kramer for 40 minutes, but Kimberley’s offence sparked for four goals in the third period — two of which were 12 seconds apart — and proved to be the difference.
Beaver Valley head coach Terry Jones admitted Kramer had a tough third period, but lamented his team’s performance, calling it one of the worst all year.
“I thought it was one of our overall worst efforts of the season,” Jones said. “In the first period, we were hanging on and Tallon was terrific in the first period — to keep it 0-0 is a real testament to how good he is.
“Second period, we came out and our decision-making was so poor, you just can’t give a team like that out-numbered rushes and we just continued to do so.”
Kramer allowed four goals in the final period, which is uncharacteristic of his numbers, amassing a .920 save percentage and 2.60 goals-against average in the regular season.
“The third period, Tallon had an off-period,” Jones admitted. “He’ll be first to say it and he’ll be way better [Wednesday].”
The Nitros opened the game with a strong first period, buoyed by two power-play opportunities that got a lot of looks, but nothing past Kramer. Keenan Haase had one of the best chances, slapping a bullet from the point, but Kramer saw it and flashed the leather for a big save.
Kimberley had four opportunities with the man-advantage, however, they couldn’t convert, despite sending a lot of rubber in Kramer’s direction.
“To me, a power-play is all about getting shots on goal, puck retrieval so you can get as many chances as you can. I thought we were a little bit lazy in terms of trying to screen the goalie,” Bancks said.
“Other than that, I thought it was good. You gotta want to score more and then to score, you got to take away the sight line and bang in the rebound. They can’t control it because they can’t see it.”
The two teams traded quality chances over the first 20 minutes, with Hunt beating Kramer, but not the post near the end of the frame, keeping it scoreless heading into the second period.
A quick strike from Marchi and Hunt just over a minute apart to open the second frame put the Nitros up 2-0. Hunt’s goal, putting the team up by two, came off a botched odd-man rush, as he corralled a loose puck and spun around on the backhand to slide the biscuit past Kramer.
The Nitehawks got a bit of life halfway through the period as the Nitros gave up their only shorthanded marker of the season off a bad turnover in the defensive zone. With Brouwer way out of his net, Pruss intercepted a pass and buried the puck into a wide open cage.
The two teams continued to trade chances, but the Nitros struck twice in quick fashion once again early in the third period.
Richter blitzed down the right wing and snapped a shot past Kramer 4:45 into the frame and 12 seconds later, Buckley beat the Nitehawks goaltender though the five-hole on a rush down the left wing, putting the team up 4-1.
Four minutes later, Haase collected a loose puck in the offensive zone and fired a shot on net, which deflected off of Hunt’s skate and through Kramer.
Van Steinburg rounded out the scoring with a solo effort, gaining the zone, undressing a Nitehawks defencemen and sneaking a backhand top shelf for a highlight-reel goal with five minutes left in the game.
Haase, who finished the game with three assists, noted that the Nitros handled Beaver Valley’s physicality well and knew that if they peppered Kramer with shots, the goals would come.
“Some of those goals were pretty nice, top shelf, but I think we just tried to get every shot we could towards the net and make sure they were quality shots,” Haase said.
Game 2 goes down in Kimberley on Wednesday evening at the Civic Centre, with puck drop at 7 p.m.
The two teams only faced each other twice during the regular season; Kimberley won the opening matchup at 4-2, before escaping with a 4-3 overtime win in their second meeting.
“Anytime you play a Terry Jones-coached hockey team, they’re a good team,” said Bancks. “Because they’re so successful year after year, they have players that want to go there, so they recruit good players, they play a good, honest hockey game.
“They’re fairly physical, they skate well and they execute and are fairly disciplined…so it’s a challenge to beat them. They have a tremendous history over there so it’s nice to be up 1-0.”
Even though the two teams have only met twice, Jones offered his take on the Dynamiters.
“We know their top five players are elite players,” Jones said. “The power-play unit with those five players is very dangerous. Their supporting cast, with guys like Hunt who seem to be on the scoresheet against us all the time, is very, very solid.
“They’re a hard working, well-coached team. We know them well. We’ve studied them, we’ve watched video, we just didn’t play very well tonight.”
Tuesday, March 15
Beaver Valley Nitehawks 1 at Kimberley Dynamiters 6
First Period – No scoring
Second Period1. KIM – J. Marchi, (T. Wit, J. Richter), 0:552. KIM – S. Hunt, (E. Buckley, K. Haase), 1:563. BVN – M. Pruss, (unassisted), 6:11 (SH)
Third Period4. KIM – J. Richter, (T. Wit, Ty. Van Steinburg), 3:455. KIM – E. Buckley, (J. Meier, K. Haase), 3:576. KIM – S. Hunt, (K. Haase, D. Langelaar), 7:217. KIM – Ty. Van Steinburg, (J. Meier), 14:11
Shots 1 2 3 TBeaver Valley Nitehawks 7 9 12 28Kimberley Dynamiters 14 11 8 33
Goaltenders Saves Mins SV%BVN – Tallon Kramer 27/33 60:00 0.818KIM – Tyson Brouwer 27/28 60:00 0.964
Power plays: BVN – 0/3 (00.0%); KIM – 0/4 (00.0%)Attendance: 705
Kootenay Conference Championship
Beaver Valley Nitehawks (2) vs. Kimberley Dynamiters (1)DYNAMITERS LEAD SERIES 1-0Game 1 – Nitehawks 1 at Dynamiters 6Game 2 – March 16 at Kimberley Civic Centre (7 p.m.)Game 3 – March 18 at Beaver Valley Arena (8:30 p.m.)Game 4 – March 19 at Beaver Valley Arena (8:30 p.m.)*Game 5 – March 21 at Kimberley Civic Centre (7 p.m.)*Game 6 – March 22 at Beaver Valley Arena (8 p.m.)*Game 7 – March 24 at Kimberley Civic Centre (7 p.m.)
* = if necessary; all times listed are Mountain