When the Kimberley Dynamiters finished their training camp on August 28 and prepared for the upcoming regular season, the 23-man roster contained only seven players who had played a game in the KIJHL, and only five of those played for the Nitro’s the season before.
Not only did the team have a new head coach, but they had a completely new roster. Many around the league and at home pegged this season to be a rebuilding year. When the Nitro’s lost their season opener 2-1 at home against the Fernie Ghostriders, fans too began to feel it was a rebuilding year.
But then the Nitro’s won the remainder of their September games, winning seven in a row, going into October. Then as October ended and November started, the Nitro’s went on another seven-game winning streak. And to the fans pleasure, the Dynamiters were not losing at home, including sweeping the Christmas Classic with Fernie, and would not lose at the Civic Centre until January 14 against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.
During that time span, the Dynamiters had an astounding 29 player transactions as Stuart would keep tweaking his lineup.
The player’s individual work would start garnering league wide attention. Mitch Traichevich was an honorable mention for player of the month in October, and would later be traded to his hometown club in Dawson Creek.
Later, in December Cody Campbell would go undefeated posting two shutouts and earning the Kootenay Conference Player of the Month recognition, while newly acquired Nolan Kurylo scored seven goals and 12 points during December receiving an honorable mention for player of the month.
Kurylo would keep up his top-notch performance in January scoring six goals and 19 points in nine games. That would be the only highlight to January, as the Nitro’s would lose ground on the division leading Thunder Cats.
The Dynamiters would close out the regular season strong, winning their last five games, and lineup against the Fernie Ghostriders in a fan favourite best of seven series in the opening round. Chase Miller would be named the Eddie Mountain Divisions Top Rookie posting 19 goals and 32 assists.
This series helped the Dynamiters build character as they would finish the ‘Riders season with Tyler Van Steinburg scoring in double overtime.
Next was the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, the Cyclone Taylor Cup hosts, a team stacked because of their automatic ticket to Junior B tournament. Winning game one, and then game three and four in double overtime, what once seemed impossible at the start of the season, was becoming a reality.
For the third year in a row the Dynamiters would advance to the Kootenay Conference Finals, after winning the Eddie Mountain Division playoff title, and face the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. The “rebuilding” team would force a winner-take-all game five. And that’s where the Nitro’s magical run would end, one game away from advancing to the KIJHL finals for a third year in a row.
While Campbell would be named the teams playoff MVP, James Farmer would put on the best offensive output by a defenceman in the KIJHL in recent memory, and lead the team in scoring with five goals and 15 assists.
When Stuart reflected on the season he acknowledged there was a learning curve, unfamiliar territory and a lot of uncertainty.
“I didn't really see it going this well, given all the uncertainty. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people from the executive right down to the equipment manager.”
“I am most proud of is how they players came together and competed and battled as a team. They were, in my opinion, a true team.”
Stuart was very pleased with the support of the community and the fans, “One of my goals at the start of year was to put together a team that the town would be proud of, I really think we did that.”
While it is still too early to venture into what the team will look like next season, Staurt is excited about next season.
“We could be a dangerous hockey club next year. We have 20 eligible players that could come back, about 10 have indicated already that they would like to come back, and the closer to 20 returnees we get the more dangerous we will be.”
It was a rebuilding year, the team did over exceed expectations. Stuart and staff now have a foundation established that they can build upon.