Friday, 23 February 2018

Kimberley Dynamiters win Game One, 6-2

The Kimberley Dynamiters set a goal prior to the start of the series against the Fernie Ghostriders to have an excellent opening period.

Three goals on four shots in five minutes gave the Dynamiters the excellent start they were looking for. Nicholas Ketola scored the first goal of the series. Cooper Page added one followed by Brock Palmer.

"They were prepared and ready to go." Head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said of the team. "From the morning meeting the guys were focused, they were ready to go. I haven't seen us play that good of a period as a group in a long time, it at all this season."

Brandt Bertoia scored the teams fourth goal at the 7:24 mark, chasing Ghostriders' goalie Broc Merkl from the net, and Zak Larson took guard.

"We did as good as we could in the first." Stuart said, "I hate to say this, but it was almost as if the game was over after the first period, that's how good we were in the first."

The Ghostriders' did stop the bleeding as Jason Woodley got the teams first goal.

In the second period, the Nitro's coasted, and the 'Riders closed the gap. Defosse deflected a shot in that Cody Campbell didn't have a chance on to cut into the Nitro's lead, it was 4-2.

Bertoia gave the Nitro's a three goal lead with his second of the game.

Penalties then began to be a problem for the Nitro's, as they played shorthanded for the last 4:07 of the period. They were able to escape with a clean penalty kill.

"It was tough. We didn't help ourselves because we put it in cruise control. Our compete level went way down, our skating went way down, our battling for pucks went way down.

"But still, the team that is up 4-0 is getting a lot of penalties called against on them compared to the team that is down. Either way, part of it was our fault too."

In the third the two teams locked horns, for the lowest period shot total of the game.

With 2:30 left the Ghostriders' went all in and pulled their goalie. Campbell bailed the team out, and Bertoia finished the hattrick with an empty net goal.

"It was good." Bertoia said of scoring the hattrick. "It's good to turn it on at this time of year. This is the biggest part of the year. Especially against Fernie, I have never liked them and I never will. I have two buddies on that team, and during the game, I hate them."

Bertoia has now scored back-to-back hattricks against the Ghostriders.

"Bertoia was the best player again for the second time in a row against these guys." Stuart said. "He looked like he belongs in a different league. If it wasn't for Brandt, it could have been a different game."

Bertoia's line with Cam Russell and Ketola scored four of the teams six goals. Bertoia credits Stuart for putting the line together which has resulted in success.

"They are the fastest two forwards on our team, in my opinion. They can fly. All you have to do is get to the net and puckes will bounce your way. I couldn't ask for better linemates.

With the 6-2 win the Nitro's take an early 1-0 lead in the best of seven series.

"We got the result we wanted because we had such a great first period, we don't want to make that a habit." Stuart cautioned after the game.

Brandt Bertoia was named the Home Star of the game, and Campbell made 19 saves in the win.

Looking back at the game Bertoia said, "For the first 20 we were solid, lots of speed. That is our biggest advantage. We got away from our game once we got up three or four goals. We just played at their level for the rest of the game."

But it wasn't just Bertoia with his hattrick that stood out. For Stuart, Palmer, who is sporting a full-cage mask, also stood out. "Palmer was real good in the dirty areas. He showed  a lot of toughness there, taking some hits, going to the front of the net, and making plays on the wall."

While Roberts impressed defensively. "On the back end, Roberts was probably our best defenceman tonight."

The two teams face off again on Saturday at 7:30 at the Kimberley Civic Centre followed up with game three Sunday in Sparwood.

Lead Photo: Kimberley Dynamiters receive the banner for finishing first in the Eddie Mountain Division during the regular season. Taken by Jonathan Righton

Playoff Preview Infographic: Kimberley Dynamiters vs Fernie Ghostriders


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Playoff Preview Story: Kimberley Dynamiters vs Fernie Ghostriders


For the fifth year in a row, arguably the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League's greatest rivalry, is happening. The Kimberley Dynamiters and Fernie Ghostriders will battle eachother in a best of seven series to advance to the Eddie Mountain Division Finals.

The Dynamiters have been winners of the past four match ups, needing five or six games to eliminate the Ghostriders. The 'Riders last won a series against the Dynamiters in 2012, needing seven games.

The Nitro's have also won all eight games this season against the Ghostriders, outscoring the 'Riders 39-22.

But if there is one stat that provides the 'Riders with hope, it is that at the Kimberley Civic Centre they have only lost by one goal in each game, including one overtime game.

Ghostriders head coach and general manager Craig Mohr, chuckled and said, "it's bizarre! We have played really well in Kimbo this year. It is what it is. We can feel good going into the first two games because we have played well there."

Whereas, Nitro's head coach and general manager Derek Stuart responded with "really?" as he was not aware of  and couldn't explain the stat, but added,

"Playoffs are a different season, but at the same time it's the same two teams with the same players. Based on the last eight times we have played Fernie, our team is extremely confident heading into the series."

The Ghostriders have truly only played five home games this season

Road Warriors: Even

Another area of closeness between the two teams is special teams. When all 47 games are considered, the Nitro's power play is 22.0% and the 'Riders 17.51%. There is even greater difference in the penalty kill, with the 'Riders last at 73.68% and the Nitro's fourth with 87.75%. However, in just the eight games, the special teams haven't been a huge differentiating factor with the Nitro's penalty kill at 78.05% and the 'Riders at 72.22%.

Special Teams: Even

Where the Dynamiters get their edge is in shots. Goaltender Broc Merkl for the 'Riders has been outstanding, but he has faced 331 shots in 360 minutes, nearly a shot per minute. With that edge, the Nitro's have been able to wear down their opponent. The Dynamiters need to keep that pace.

For Kimberley, they have the winningest goalie in the KIJHL this season, Cody Campbell, posting 25 wins, protecting the net. Not to mention a very experienced defensive core.

Goaltending and Defense: Kimberley

Up front the Ghostriders have relied heavily on Mitch Titus to provide offense. Their captain is seventh in league scoring with 64 points. When healthy Titus, Brendan Nemes, and Keelan Saworski form a deadly trio.

For the Dynamiters, they have relied on depth to down the 'Riders with seven different players being named the star of the game over the eight games. It's also youth that leads the offensive punch. Brock Palmer and Cam Russell lead the way while Matt Davies, James Farmer and Brandt Bertoia round out the teams top five scoring.

Farmer has had statistical success against the 'Riders posting five goals and 13 points. Bertoia has been clutch with three power play goals, a short handed goal, and two game winners.

Offence: Kimberley

For Ghostriders Mohr, he is excited for another matchup between these two teams.

"It will be fun. I think it is going to be a hard nosed, hard fought, gritty series. When you put these two teams against each other, the rivalry kicks in, and it makes for exciting, fun and tough, hockey."

As for Stuart, this is what he said to expect in the series, "We need to have a good start on Friday night in the first period. We definitely need to send them a message that it is the playoffs now. If they thought the regular season was tough, the playoffs are going to be a whole new ball game."

"We want to make it difficult for them to get back in the game after the first period. It is a short term goal of ours to make sure the first period is excellent."

Prediction: Kimberley wins in five

The series starts Friday at the Kimberley Civic Centre with the puck drop at 7:30 p.m.

Match Sticks: Here is the recent history of the Kimberley vs Fernie series:
2017 first round, Nitros in 6
2016 first round, Nitros in 5
2015 second round, Nitros in 6
2014 first round, Nitros in 5
2013 - did not play eachother
2012 second round, Fernie in 7
2011 first round, Fernie in 4

KIJHL Playoff Predictions with February Power Rankings

The final Power Rankings of the season.

It's also where I remove emotion and just use numbers to predict the KIJHL finals and winner. I did a post back in 2014 which showed that the best predictors of the league champion - 1st overall and 1st in power rankings - if a team had both they were very likely to win the KIJHL championship.

With that in mind, here is the Power Rankings for the seasons end. (Keep in mind, the difference is now related to standing in the league, a + means the team is performing better than their record suggests, and - means the opposite)


You will notice that the Creston Valley Thunder Cats (a team I picked to be last in the Eddie Mountain Division) are currently #1 in the Power Rankings and have a difference of +4, this means the team is performing better than their record suggests. The Grand Forks Border Bruins are also performing better than their record suggests.

The Summerland Steam, Kamloops Storm and Princeton Posse are all -3, they have some room for growth.

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

I already joined a discussion in the Twitterverse saying that I would like to see a Kelowna Chiefs vs Kimberley Dynamiters in the finals, that's my heart.

Removing all emotion, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats are the top power ranked team, so that puts them in the final against the Osoyoos Coyotes (the top Power Ranked team in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference).

In a weird way, if/when Creston Valley and Kimberley meet in the Eddie Mountain Division Finals, that is an "unofficial" battle of the beasts - top power ranked vs top standings.

But let's go through and pick a Conference and Division winner:

Division Winners: Creston Valley Thunder Cats, Nelson Leafs, Osoyoos Coyotes, Revelstoke Grizzlies
Conference Winners: Creston Valley Thunder Cats, Osoyoos Coyotes
League Champs: Creston Valley Thunder Cats

But let's also look at some teams that may surprise:
Kelowna Chiefs They are 7th in the standings and 4th in power rankings, which means they have been playing better and could make some noise.
Beaver Valley Nitehawks Can you really call the Nitehawks a dark horse team? Well, this year we can since they were 3rd in their division. They are also power ranked the 2nd best in their division.
Kimberley Dynamiters as a dark horse? It's a stretch. As noted above, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats are the #1 power ranked team, and the Nitro's #2 power ranked team and #1 in the standings, they are the most likely team to stop Creston from their triple winnings.

Disclaimer
Now, these are just predictions using stats, looking at the patterns teams have built during the regular season. The playoffs are different season, and stats don't include one major factor: human effect. Anything can legitimately happen.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Playoff Preview Stats Package: Kimberley Dynamiters vs Fernie Ghostriders


This post is going to help inform the next two posts that will help preview the upcoming series between the Kimberley Dynamiters and Fernie Ghostriders.

This post includes:

  • KIJHL game preview (home and away record between the two teams)
  • Special teams against each other
  • Game Stars
  • Shots
  • Goals
  • Goaltender stats
  • Player stats
Everything is pretty raw, not a lot of flair or spice, just straight up numbers.

Shots

The shots are broken down by period


1st 2nd 3rd OT Total
Nitro's 110 147 117 2 376

1st 2nd 3rd OT Total
Riders 79 85 83 3 250

Observation: The Nitro's fired 126 more shots, with the biggest difference coming in the second period


Goals

Goals are broken down by period


1st 2nd 3rd OT Total
Nitro's 10 18 10 1 39
1st 2nd 3rd OT Total
Riders 6 10 6 0 22

Special Teams

Team PPG PPO PP% PK
Fernie 9 41 21.95% 72.22%
Kimberley 10 36 27.78% 78.05%

Observation: These teams are very clost to eachother on special teams, while this area is important, it may not be a deciding factor.

Star Players

Fernie Ghostriders  Kimberley Dynamiters 
Brant Mack Brandt Bertoia
Broc Merkl x2 Brock Palmer x2
Mitch Titus x3 Cam Russell
Ryan Partaker Cody Campbell
Ty Abbott James Farmer
Nicholas Ketola
Ryan Keilty

Observation: #1 Star players are subjective, they impressed whoever did the scoresheet/webcast/boxscore. With that in mind, Fernie shows that they have two primary players carrying their team again the Nitro's: Broc Merkl and Mitch Titus. Whereas the Nitro's are a mixed bag of whoever is starring that game. Fun Fact: Brant Mack is a former Nitro and stood out with his short handed goal against his former team.

Goaltenders

Kimberley MIN. SH SV GA GAA SV%
Adam Andersen 182.5 98 87 11 3.62 0.888
Cody Campbell 300 148 137 11 2.20 0.926

Fernie MIN. SH SV GA GAA SV%
Broc Merkl 360 331 296 35 5.83 0.894
Zak Larson 59.5 34 32 2 2.02 0.941

Observation: Merkl has faced nearly a shot per minute against the Nitro's, that is a heavy workload.

Player Stats

Kimberley Dynamiters player stats:
Player G A PTS PIM PPG SHG GWG
James Farmer 5 8 13 4 1 0 0
Brandt Bertoia 7 4 11 10 3 1 2
Cam Russell 3 8 10 4 0 0 1
Brock Palmer 5 4 9 0 2 0 0
Nicholas Ketola 5 4 9 2 2 0 1
Devon Langelaar 1 7 8 14 1 0 0
Chase Gedny 4 3 7 0 1 0 2
Cooper Page 3 4 7 0 0 0 1
Matt Davies 0 7 7 22 0 0 0
Bryce Mcdonald 1 4 5 6 1 0 0
Derian Bamber 1 3 4 17 0 0 0
James Rota 1 2 3 0 0 0 0
Mason Palaga 1 2 3 33 0 0 1
Ryan Keilty 0 3 3 0 0 0 0
Brett Roberts 1 1 2 2 0 1 0
Harrison Risdon 0 2 2 25 0 0 0
Lucas Chilton 0 1 1 2 0 0 0
Nicholas Graham 1 0 1 4 0 0 0
Austin Lawson 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Braiden Koran 0 0 0 2 0 0 0
Brandon Langridge 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brant Mack 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Carter Spring 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Colby Sherlock 0 0 0 6 0 0 0
Jackson Bohan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Lucas Purdy 0 0 0 34 0 0 0
Luke Recchi 0 0 0 17 0 0 0

Fernie Ghostriders player stats:
Player G A PTS PIM PPG SHG
Mitch Titus 6 5 11 2 2 0
Jace Woodley 1 5 6 0 0 0
Keelan Saworski 3 2 5 19 2 0
Kevin Pierce 3 1 4 20 2 0
Ty Abbott 1 3 4 0 1 0
Dylan Defosse 0 3 3 31 0 0
Grayson Neufeld 0 3 3 25 0 0
Ryan Partaker 2 1 3 21 0 0
Tristan Downe 0 3 3 21 0 0
Mathew Cooper 1 1 2 2 0 0
Owen Titus 1 1 2 4 1 0
Brant Mack 1 0 1 0 0 1
Brendan Nemes 0 1 1 0 0 0
Derek Green 1 0 1 2 1 0
Easton Jolie 0 1 1 0 0 0
Ethan Jang 1 0 1 6 0 0
Greg Susinski 1 0 1 8 0 0
Matt Rogers 0 1 1 0 0 0
Ben Kemp 0 0 0 2 0 0
Brant Mack 0 0 0 2 0 0
Chase Rayman 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cory Caldwell 0 0 0 0 0 0
Devyn Stewart 0 0 0 4 0 0
Eric Welford 0 0 0 4 0 0
Ethan Jang 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ethan Jang 0 0 0 2 0 0
Ethan Jang 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ethan Jang 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ethan Jang 0 0 0 4 0 0
Jake Hryhoriw 0 0 0 15 0 0
Jason Lane 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jordon Kromm 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Haugo 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Klein 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sam Rousseau 0 0 0 15 0 0
Shaun Pierce 0 0 0 27 0 0

KIJHL game preview

Last item! This is from the KIJHL's Game Preview option on the boxscore before a game starts
Observation: It is interesting how close the games have been in Kimberley, all one goal games including an OT win for the Nitro's. But the Nitro's have outscored Fernie by 13 in Sparwood.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Kimberley Dynamiters finish season on a high note, going undefeated in February and clinching the KIJHL

The Kimberley Dynamiters 2017-18 regular season came to a conclusion this past weekend.

On Friday, the Dynamiters traveled to Invermere to play the Columbia Valley Rockies.

After a scoreless first period, the Rockies opened the scoring at the midway point of the second.

"[The Rockies] came out hard and carried the play." Head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said. "We weathered the storm, as they say, and Campbell made some great saves to keep us in it. They did get one by us, but we didn't let that phase us."

The unphased Nitro's answered back with a power play goal scored by Mason Palaga.

"We just continued to play our hockey." Stuart said. "Even when you play good, there are going to be some lull's and where things don't go your way.

"We just kept playing the way we have been playing for the last month and a bit. We told the players if you keep doing this, you will get rewarded."

The Nitro's efforts were definitely rewarded in the third, scoring three goals in two minutes in the later half of the period. Derian Bamber scored, then century-an James Farmer scored 18 second later. Chase Gedny added the teams fourth goal.

The Nitro's won the game 4-1, and Cody Campbell, the Away Star of the game, made 29 saves for the win.

It was Gedny's first game back after injury, and he had a goal and two assists.

"Chase was really good. He is a guy who knows where to go." Staurt said. "When he gets into that spot and gets the puck on his stick he usually wins that battle with the goaltender, and he did again in his first game back."

Another player that stood out Friday for Stuart was defencemen Bamber, "He was excellent on defence. Him and Roberts were good together.

"Bamber was probably the guy that was playing as good as we have seen him all season. He was rewarded as well. The way he skating and his physicality, if there was one player who stuck out it was Bamber."

With the win, the Dynamiters clinched the KIJHL regular season title. It was one of the teams goals that they made at the Christmas break.

"To clinch the division and the conference last weekend, and then to do the league in the next game just gives our guys the reassurance that when they set goals they can achieve them."

The Nitro's have made well on five of their six goals: number of wins at home, number of wins on the road, clinch the Eddie Mountain Division, clinch the Kootenay Conference, and clinch the KIJHL.

"We are five for five on our goals after Christmas, there is one left. It will take a while to attain, but hopefully we can get there down the road. It's to win the whole league."

After taking the regular season title, the Nitro's headed the opposite direction from Invermere to play the Creston Valley Thunder Cats in the final game of the regular season.

The Dynamiters were without captain Brett Roberts and starting goaltender Cody Campbell. Adam Andersen started, which Stuart said was going to happen any way. Without the captain, local player Lucas Purdy was given the 'C'

"He is a third year guy, and he is a guy in our leadership group." Stuart said "Very easily, along with a couple others that don't have letters, could be a guy that has a letter. He has been working hard lately. It was a thank you for all the hard work for the year to give him the 'C' in the last game."

League leading scorer Liam Plunkett opened the scoring, banging home a rebound, and would hold onto the one goal lead going into the second period.

Farmer was awarded a penalty shot, after it was concluded that a Cats player closed their hand on the puck in the crease area. Farmer glided in and made it look easy, tying the game at one.

In the third Cam Russell, the eventual Away Star of the game, scored an unassisted short handed goal to give the Dynamiters a 2-1 lead.

"Russell stood out because of the short handed goal." Stuart said, "it was a phenomenal individual effort."

"I don't think that there was one guy that stood out in Creston. I think everyone came together and played Nitro's hockey.

"We dedicated the game to the 20 year-olds on our team before hand. We said we were going to do whatever we can to get a victory for them. As a group, overall, it was great team effort."

And as fate would have it, 20 year-old Nicholas "Captain America" Ketola scored with just under four minutes left to give the Nitro's a 3-1 lead.

The Cats would half the lead, but it was too little to late, as Andersen stopped 24 of 26 shots for his 12th win of the season.

"Adam was excellent. He was great. The last four periods we have played there he has been outstanding. He has turned into, for us, a 1B type of goaltender instead of a backup. We are not afraid to put Adam in whatsoever, he has been fantastic."

With the 3-2 win, the Nitro's finished the season going undefeated in February, winning their past nine in a row, and posting a 38-7-1-1 record for the season. The .830 win percentage is the best the Dynamiters have ever posted in the KIJHL.

"We are proud of the players, not just for attaining their goals, but being able to have one of the best, if not the best season, winning percentage wise, in Dynamiters history." Stuart said. "It is very telling of the team that we have.  We are very excited for the playoffs."

The Dynamiters now prepare for their opening round of the playoffs Friday against the Fernie Ghostriders.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Ranking the KIJHL Goaltenders

Every year I try to do a goaltender ranking, similar to the clutch scorers.

To be consistent, I am looking at a goalies win percentage, save percentage and goals against average. I then rank them in order, and the goalie in 1st place receives 20 points, the goalie in 2nd receives 19, and so on until the 20th placed goalie receives 1 point.

This year, if I remember correctly, is the first year that a goalkeeper is number one in every category. Well done Caiden Kreitz. However, Kreitz, has just played the bare minimum of games: six, but those six games have been statistically impressive.

The Nelson Leafs have Kreitz #1 in the rankings and Williams as #2.

Being a Nitro fan, our goalies sit #4 and #15.

Here is the full list: