The Kimberley Dynamiters early season undefeated streak came to an end this past weekend as they crumbled under the Columbia Valley Rockies and downed the Golden Rockets.
Heading into Friday's game in Invermere, the Nitro's were one of three teams that had yet to lose early in the season, and that may have given the Nitro's a large ego.
"It was a lack of preparation," head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said, "and probably a bit of arrogance and cockiness, thinking that we can just show up and win."
The Rockies capitalized quickly on the Nitro's ego and lack of preparation, scoring two power play goals in the first five minutes. The Nitro's were able to stop the bleeding for the remainder of the period.
It was a relentless attack by the Rockies, as they scored another two goals in the middle frame to take a commanding 4-0 lead after 40 minutes.
"There were a lot of bad decisions with the puck, that led to turnovers." Stuart said. "Plus a lack of toughness in our slot in our zone. They out worked us, out hit us, out skated us, they kicked our assess all night long."
In the third period, the Nitro's traded goals with the Rockies, as Brett Roberts and Matt Davies scored. Finally the nightmare came to an end, and the Rockies won 6-2. Interesting fact, the Rockies now have a 5-4-1 home record against the Nitro's in the months of September and October since 2013.
Adam Andersen was in net and did what he could, making 33 saves to prevent the blowout from growing, and according to Stuart, it wouldn't have mattered who was in net, they still would have lost.
The only positive from the game that Stuart could find was James Rota. Rota had played is first game on offence since making the permanent shift from defence to forward, and earned an assist.
But then Stuart added that he was glad the team lost the way they did.
"The loss was actually a good thing. You have to prepare for everybody, the loss was an eye-opener. It was a good thing that we lost, and we think the boys learned from it."
It was apparent that the Nitro's did learn their lesson, as they came out soaring against the Golden Rockets on Saturday. They fired an astounding 18 shots on net.
"They were prepared to go." Stuart said. "They were ready to play Dynamiter hockey regardless of the opponent."
James Farmer got the Dynamiters on the board shortly after the midway point of the first. One would have hoped that with so many shots, there would have been more goals.
Stuart said he had to drill a message into the players during the first intermission, "We are just trying to focus on our actions and not the results, our actions were excellent in the first."
The Rockets then derailed the Nitro's as they were able to sneak in their first goal, and then mere seconds later, the Rockets took a 2-1 lead.
"We didn't react well to the first goal, being scored on shortly after." Stuart said, "Three or four shifts later they seemed to forget about it and resumed with the game plan."
On that fourth shift, the teams top line of the game, stocked with rookies: Austin Lawson, Cam Russell, and Brock Palmer; scored a short-handed goal to tie the game at two.
In the third, the Dynamiters just kept going, kept to their game plan. Davies and Farmer were able to show off their skills as they both completed two different two-on-one's to give the Nitro's a 4-2 lead.
Brandt Bertoia would then force his way through Rockets defenders as the period drew to an end to score an empty-net short-handed goal.
"It was good to see Brandt get a goal," Stuart said, "he had been working hard, he deserved to get rewarded with a goal in the statistics column."
Cody Campbell made 27 saves for his second win of the season. But for Stuart, it was Tyler Van Steinburg, who played a stable game, that was the star of the game.
"He was excellent, I thought he was the best player on the ice. Nothing super flashy. He didn't make any mistakes and made the right decision, excellent with the puck."
Even though the Nitro's lost their first game of the season, they still sit on top of the Eddie Mountain Division with eight points, two ahead of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. But most of all, they learned an important lesson to prepare for every opponent.