The Kimberley Dynamiters did their best to get out of their recent slump and would have succeeded, were it not for a sensational performance from Creston Valley Thunder Cats goaltender Jacob Burnside, who stopped all but three of the 50 shots the Nitros sent his way.
It was if nothing else an exceptionally exciting Tuesday night home game for Unused Ticket Night at the Civic Centre, with a crowd of just over 500 fans treated to a rollercoaster of a game that was ultimately decided by one goal in the shootout from Creston’s Luke Chakrabarti.
Despite outshooting their opponent 50-27, the Nitros had to accept a 4-3 loss on home ice, and though things haven’t been going their way during this last stretch of the regular season, there were a lot of positive takeaways to be had, particularly in the third period.
“The third period, that’s what we want to see,” said assistant coach Jeff Keiver. “Everyone going hard, doing the right things. Obviously outplayed them, out shot them badly in the third period.
“We’re close to where we want to be, it’s just right now the puck’s just not going in the net for us. We’re struggling to score goals; we had 50-plus shots on net. So when the margin for error is so slim, we’ve got to bury our chances and stay out of the box.”
The game got off to a less than ideal start, with Christian Mealey sent to the box at face off for a warm up violation.
The Nitros successfully killed the early penalty and Kade Leskosky opened the scoring a couple minutes later. Creston would answer back with their first goal 17 minutes in and would get their second about four minutes into the second period.
Cash Regan scored his first goal of the night to tie things back up, but Creston once again took the lead shortly before the second period’s end.
The crowd erupted when it appeared Kimberley had tied the game once again, but the goal was quickly called off, much to the fans’ chagrin, with the ref giving Conner Furukawa two minutes for Head Contact and a 10-minute misconduct.
Things were looking dire, with Creston’s goalie stopping shot, after shot, after shot. Then Regan, who played his heart out all game, tied things back up with less than two minutes remaining.
“As much as I don’t want to [give him credit], I mean good on him,” Regan said of Burnside’s performance in Creston’s net. “He played great, stood on his head, but at the end of the day we’ve got to figure out a way to solve that and break him down.”
Overtime went scoreless, despite Kimberley again outchancing their opponent, and Creston walked a way with a 4-3 win after the shootout.
“Obviously we put up 50-plus shots in the game and ultimately we’ve just got to make sure that we bear down on our chances and make sure that we’re really being hot on our sticks in front of the net and putting that puck in the back of the net,” Regan said.
“He’s been great all year, he’s powerful, he’s fast, great shot,” Keiver said of Regan. “He had a great game tonight, I thought he was one of our best players tonight and got rewarded with a couple goals, that’s why I threw him out there in the shootout, I thought he’d keep his lucky hand going. We’ve been happy with Cash lately.”
The Dynamiters were also down two players and filling the gaps with affiliate players in their last two games. Goaltender Trystan Self was injured on a plane in Creston, and forward Matt Saretsky is out for the rest of the season after breaking his arm in their last game against Fernie. Both players are in their third seasons with the team.
Keiver was able to report that Saretsky had a successful surgery, but has an expected recovery time of three months, with three months of physiotherapy to come.
“We lost our captain earlier in the year, so we’ve had some experience with some big injuries and losing Matt’s the same, regular guys are always hard to replace,” Keiver said. “You kind of plug holes with affiliate players where you can and stuff like that, but it just throws everything off, throws line combinations off, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”
Regan has also played three seasons with these two players.
“Matty’s a super good guy in the room, super upbeat, positive and battles hard every night,” he said. “It’s a huge loss and we’re doing everything we can to support him and it’s not an ideal situation and it’s definitely not what you want to see with one of your teammates, but everybody’s being positive and sending him our regards and just making sure that he’s alright and doing well.”
The Dynamiters next game is in Golden on Sunday, Feb. 5. They will then close out the season with two home games: taking on Creston on Friday, Feb. 10 and Columbia Valley on Saturday, Feb. 11.
“We don’t want to get too down on ourselves, especially when we’re going through a bit of a slump like we are,” Regan said. “Try to keep it positive and do everything we can to kind of turn this thing around and get rolling in the last couple games before the playoffs start.”