The Kimberley Dynamiters took a 2-1 lead in Teck Cup Finals with a 2-1 win on home ice over the Princeton Posse.
Game one in the series saw the Nitros have their eight-game playoff win streak come to a grinding halt, with Princeton taking a 6-3 win. Game two was decided in double overtime, with Campbell McLean scoring both the equalizer and the game winner.
Dynamiters head coach, general manager Derek Stuart said the team had some nerves in the first game that reflected in their play, but found their form in game two and carried that over into the first period of game three in Kimberley.
The Nitros started the game shorthanded, with Cash Regan in the box due to a warm-up violation. The Nitros handily navigated their first penalty kill and as it was ending, the Posse took a penalty and Regan capitalized on the power play to give the team an early lead.
He would then get the assist on Christian Mealey’s goal to make it 2-0. The Nitros dominated the first period, allowing only three shots on net from Princeton.
“Really good first period by the guys,” Regan said after the game. “The guys were ready to roll, buzzing, really, really skating and getting after it and obviously we capitalized and took a 2-0 lead after the first, so couldn’t ask for a better honestly.”
The second period was a different story, however, and Princeton bounced back with goals from Dayton Nelson and Brayden Bablitz, tying things up heading into the third.
“We were due for an off period,” Stuart said. “The entire game two, that was the most dominating performance I’ve ever seen in terms of puck possession and controlling the game. And first period again tonight. I think in the second period we just got a little bit away from our game plan and thought it was going to be maybe a little bit easier, but we corrected that really quickly.”
The Dynamiters shifted back into high gear early in the third and Ethan Bloomquist got the game winner 12 minutes in. Kasey Miller would then send the puck into Princeton’s empty net with an assist from goaltender Trystan Self.
“We’re playing desperate and with urgency and everybody’s contributing,” Stuart said. “They’re finding a way to do something that helps the team every time they go out on the ice for the most part so the record sounds nice but we’re just looking to get game three down now.”
Stuart added he thinks this team reminds him a lot of the 2018 squad who won the Teck Cup.
“These guys, you see them on the road trips hanging out with different guys, there’s no cliques or anything. They’re playing for each other and they’re a tight a group as I’ve ever seen.”
The team has showed a lot of resiliency since bouncing back from a three-game deficit in round two with Fernie to pull off the reverse sweep, and then sweep the following series against Beaver Valley. That sense of desperation and urgency is the key to their continued success, Stuart said.
The job is far from over and they will need to bear down and try their best to avoid those second period lulls in game four against Posse.
“I find that they’re a good fast team that plays well on the transition,” Christian Mealey said. “I think they struggle a bit defensively with our speed, but if we ever lay back then they pounce on us and they know how to pot goals so we need to keep playing well defensively.”
Game four is Tuesday, April 4 at the Kimberley Civic Centre.