The Kimberley Dynamiters worked hard in game four to force a winner-take-all game five with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Friday in an attempt to reach the KIJHL finals for a third year in a row.
The past two trips to the KIJHL finals, the Nitro’s have had to go through the Nitehawks to get there. The Nitehawks, however, were hopeful that third meeting would be the charm for them.
It didn’t take long for the Nitehawks to get the 350 in attendance, a capacity crowd, celebrating by scoring a mere 2:30 into the game. It soon became apparent, that Nitehawks Tyler Ghirardosi was on a one man mission to advance the Nitehawks into the KIJHL Finals. He scored his second of the period at 6:41, and then his hat-trick goal at the 10:35 mark of the first period.
“Unfortunately, we had three missed assignments, or bad shifts that ended in the back of our net.” Nitro’s head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said. “Three simple mistakes that they made us pay for.”
The Dynamiters did respond with Devon Langelaar scoring second of the playoffs, and Nolan Kurylo with his 10th of the playoffs.
“That's how we have been all year. We don't quit. Our resiliency has been there all season long.”
The Nitehawks wouldn’t go away, and would score their fourth of the period, taking a 4-2 lead into the second period.
Despite being doubled on the scoreboard, Stuart was very pleased with his teams performance.
“As weird as it may look and sound, I thought that was our best first period of the entire series.
“We outshot them, we had more scoring chances, and we scored two goals in their rink in the first period.”
Both teams would halt all scoring in the middle frame. The Dynamiters kept pressing, but were having a tough time finding a way to beat the Nitehawks and their goalie, Tallon Kramer, for a third goal.
“Despite the score being 4-2 we had a chance to win, and they believed it. We just couldn't get that third one.
“If we just could have got that third one, I really believe we would've been able to tie it up.”
In the third period, with just under nine minutes left, the Nitehawks would add their fifth goal of the game on the power play.
“After they got their fifth goal, the effort was still there, as impressive as that was, but everyone saw the writing on the wall.”
As the game wore down, the Dynamiters wanted to finish the season with class.
“For us as coaches, we tried to get Colapaolo, Hozjan and Lassiter out there as much as possible.”
But the emotion of losing started taking over, and weighing on everyone.
“The last couple of minutes it was tough to see the boys faces, it's two minutes that no coach or player likes to experience.”
It was a hard fought loss. The third time would be the charm for the Nitehawks as their 5-2 victory advanced them to the KIJHL finals against the Chase Heat.
Stuart felt that the team was treated unfairly by the officials. The Nitro’s were handed 68 minutes’ worth of penalties compared to the Nitehawks 32. This includes four 10-minute misconducts (Farmer, Langelaar, Langridge x2) and one game misconduct; some of them Stuart didn’t feel were necessary or understandable.
“I'm really confused as to why a ref would do that to a young kid and make him miss 10 minutes of the game.”
But he added, “Those don't have an effect on the outcome of the game, but it does impact the game at that time. It hurt not to have them for 10 minutes.”
Even though the loss hurts, the Nitro’s can hold their heads high where they accomplished a lot more than anyone expected.
“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.”
MATCH STICKS: The Nitro’s finished the series with injuries. Harrison Risdon received a concussion in game two. Tyler Van Steinburg broke his clavicle in game two. The Nitro’s conducted exit interviews this past Sunday, and Stuart is hopeful for more returnee’s next season.