The Kimberley Dynamiters have made the KIJHL finals for the third time in the past four years. Their opponent, the Revelstoke Grizzlies, last made the KIJHL finals in 2010, defeating the Nelson Leafs in five games.
The Grizzlies come out of the Doug Birks Division of the Okanagan Shuswap Conference. They were first in their division and conference during the regular season with 73 points, a mere five points behind the Dynamiters.
To get to the finals, the Grizzlies have downed the Kamloops Storm in six games, the 100 Mile House Wranglers in seven games, and the Osoyoos Coyotes in seven games.
"If any team is going to make it this far, they don't have too many holes their armour." Grizzlies head coach and general manager Ryan Parent said. "You are going to see two well oiled machines."
To review for the Nitro's, they have won their series against Fernie Ghostriders in five games, Columbia Valley Rockies in five games, and the Nelson Leafs in six games.
Due to the no-crossover rule that was implemented in the 2016-17 season, these two teams have not seen eachother since October 2, 2015. The Dynamiters won the game 4-3 in overtime at the Civic Centre. There are seven players from both teams that were in the game: James Farmer, Devon Langelaar, Lucas Purdy, and James Rota from the Dynamiters; and the Grizzlies had Tommy Bodtker, Ryan Pereverzoff, and Ullar Wiatzka.
Since both teams are unknown, the coaches from both teams are relying heavily on video to understand their opponent.
"It's interesting, I have never come across [facing an opponent in the finals you haven't played]." Parent said. "With that being said, I know Stuart does a good job, and that they will be prepared and we will be ready on our end.
"In this day and age, everybody is watching video. We will be watching our fair share. I am sure Stuart has been watching our games."
"We haven't seen them first hand, we will watch video." Staurt said. "We still need focus on playing our game and playing our style and doing what we have done to get us this far."
Dynamiters Stuart said he is even going to try to get scouting reports from the Grizzlies opponents, if they will give them to him.
The Grizzlies have spread out scoring, with every single player on their roster having at least one point, and no one averaging a point per game. Even their goaltender, Giovanni Sambrielaz, has two assists. Sambrielaz has also earned himself a 2.19 GAA and a .935 SV% in the playoffs.
Leading the Grizzlies in goals is midway season addition Jordan Robertson. The 20 year old Robertson has eight goals in the playoffs, after scoring 22 in the regular season. Cody Flann, and Pereverzoff are tied for the team lead in points with 17 each.
"We are just going to continue doing what we are doing." Parent said. "We are not going to change our approach or the way we are managing things. We will be ready. We will try and focus on the details so we are as prepared as we can possibly be."
The Dynamiters, on the other hand, have four players on their roster who have not earned a point this playoff run. But they also have six players averaging a point a game. Leading the offensive charge is rookie of the year, Brock Palmer with 24 points. James Farmer leads the team in goals, having scored nine thus far.
Cody Campbell has posted impressive numbers as well. He has a 1.83 GAA and .929 SV% while shutting out an opponent twice (Nelson Leafs).
"There are a few things we need to be aware of regarding Revelstoke's game." Stuart said. "But it's crucial that we mainly focus on our game, dictating the pace and doing the things we have done thus far in order to give ourselves a chance at success"
The best part of the series, is the community support behind each team. The last reported attendance for Revelstoke was 780. The Dynamiters had 909 at their last game.
"We have had the whole town behind us," Parent said. "You are going to see some really exciting hockey. Two very competitive teams going at each other."
As for Stuart, he is excited to have the fans in the stands be a part of the team, "Due to the fantastic support we receive all season the players and staff feel like the town and our fans are part of the team.
"I hope Kimberley and our loyal fans know this and take pride in their role helping us reach the Finals."
The first game of the series is Friday in Kimberley, with game two going Saturday night before the series heads to Revelstoke on Monday and Tuesday.
For Parent, there is only one true key indicator for who will win this series, "It comes down to ultimately your players and how bad that they want it."