The visiting Kimberley Dynamiters rode into town this week to continue the exciting series with the hometown Rockets in Games 3 & 4 of the opening round of playoffs. The first pair of contests in the southern centre were split, and both teams were looking to gain an advantage as the play progressed. In the end, the Nitros departed with a stranglehold on the series, as they took two close games from the local stars.
Tuesday, Feb.21st, 2023 Kimberley 3 Rockets 1
Although the final score was slightly different, Game 3 of this exciting series was very nearly a carbon copy of the opener in Kimberley last Friday night.
In both contests, Golden opened the scoring and held a slim 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. Kimberley edged back in the 2nd period to move in front by a single goal. Strong, disciplined defensive work by both clubs followed, before an empty-net goal in the final seconds sealed the win. Let’s have a quick review………
Rockets wasted little time after the opening face-off to grab the lead. Just :41 seconds after puck-drop, Game 2 overtime hero Dominic Fiorentino fed Jordan Lario, and the Golden Captain made no mistake tucking the puck to the back of the Kimberley net.
Not to be outdone perhaps, the visitors made the most of a powerplay opportunity at the start of the second period (at the :21 second mark), when Jake Watson (the talented winger from Ashington UK) combined with Campbell McLean to tie the game at 1-1. Five minutes into the middle frame, the Rockets were assessed a major penalty, from which the Nitro powerplay once again found the range. At the 7:53 mark with the man-advantage, Tristan Weill moved his club into the lead with an unassisted effort.
Both teams seemed to settle down into strong defensive games after that tally. Checking was very close and the action shifted from end-to-end at a high tempo. Once again, Rocket’s netminder Levi Hall was sensational between the pipes.
As with the first contest of this series, no scoring in the final period until and empty-netter at the end. Dynamiter’s star rearguard Cam Reid hit the twine with just one second remaining in regulation.
Final score was 3-1. Kimberley outshot the Rockets 37-20. Golden took 7 of the 11 penalties handed out by referee Gerald Hofferd.
Wed., Feb.22nd, 2023 Kimberley 3 Rockets 2
Like watching the same exciting action movie once again, Game 4 keenly followed the identical script of the Rockets overtime win in Kimberley, but with one slight variance at the end.
No scoring in the first period despite both clubs opening the play up a little. Plenty of shots fired at netminders Matt Fleet (Nitros) and Levi Hall (Rockets), who turned aside everything which came their way.
The Dynamiters got on the scoreboard in the second period, with a pair of goals. Kasey Miller’s powerplay tally at 10:24, and Jayden Kostiuk’s third goal of the series six minutes later, opened up a 2-0 lead.
Time was beginning to become a factor for the Rockets in the third period, as the lead still held at the midway mark. But the KickingHorse Crew wasn’t to be denied, as they stormed back (just as they did in Kimberley in Game 2) to deadlock the contest at 2-2. Lanky forward Kylow Monkman got things moving at 11:23 converting an Ethan Aebly drive. Then, with just over two minutes remaining, Zac Suidy found the range on a play with Nathan Kaye and Austin Angus, bringing the hometown crowd to its feet, and sending the game into overtime.
In the extra session, it was the visitors who pulled out the victory at 3:35, when Kade Leskosky struck on a Dynamiter powerplay, to take a 3-2 decision.
Golden outshot Kimberley by a wide margin (42-28) in this game, as Matt Fleet was solid.
To date, Kimberley has been utilizing their specialty teams to the maximum. Scoring nearly half of their goals with the man-advantage, their powerplay currently is at 28% (the deciding goal in 2 of the 3 wins have been on the powerplay) . Consequently, the Dynamiters penalty-kill teams are at 95%. Conversely, the Rockets have scored all but one of their goals playing even-strength, and have been very strong offensively, while solidifying their defensive game very well. That makes for more exciting hockey to come.
The pair of victories places the Nitros in a position to close out the series at home on Friday. The Rockets however, will be looking to rebound in a big way, and bring the play back to the Plywood Palace for a Saturday night encounter.