Energetic, hard hitting, hot tempered. These are the words anyone who watched Bryden Pow play during the regular season might have used to describe his game.
Pow is usually more likely to be found in the penalty box than on his own bench. During the campaign he was second on the Nelson Leafs in penalty minutes. In the first round of the playoffs, he earned a six-game suspension.
But with his team playing from behind in the Kootenay Conference finals, Pow has earned a new adjective: goal scorer.
Pow scored twice as the Leafs beat the Kimberley Dynamiters 4-1 in Game 3 of the Kootenay Conference finals Friday in Nelson. Entering the game, the Leafs had scored just twice against the Dynamiters. The only name on the scoresheet? Pow.
After Friday’s game, Pow said he’s doing his best to stave off what will be his final year in junior hockey as a 20 year old.
“I just don’t want it to be my last game, so I’m going to keep flying. We’ve got a really good team here, we’ve got a good chance to go all the way. We’ve got to keep working hard.”
Simon Nemethy and Liam Noble also scored for the Leafs, while Dylan Marshall stopped 26 shots in front of 850 fans at the Nelson and District Community Complex.
Austin Daniels replied for the Dynamiters, with Trystan Self making 21 saves.
Kimberley leads the series 2-1 heading into Game 4, which will be played Saturday in Nelson.
The Leafs succeeded Friday by getting away from trying to out-skill Kimberley and playing a little more like Pow, with a tenacious forecheck and some shattering hits.
“Bryden possesses a terrific release,” said Leafs head coach Mario DiBella. “At times he would get inside himself and let his emotions get the best of him. But he’s all business out there. He gets those opportunities and he rips it. He’s putting it on net and he’s experiencing success.”
Nelson scored six minutes into the game. Bennett Anklewich carried the puck behind Self but slipped a deft pass behind to a trailing Pow, whose momentum helped tap the puck past Self.
The Leafs used its forecheck to throw the Dynamiters off their game and were eager to finish their checks. Kimberley relied heavily on Self, who made several terrific saves including one to stop Rhett Hamilton on the breakaway.
Self was also helped out by his post, which should have been credited for a save on a whipping wrist shot by Nelson’s Joe Davidson.
Kimberley improved its play in the second, but continued to struggle against the Leafs’ in their own zone.
Nelson went on a power play and took a 2-0 lead after Bryce Sookro’s shot rebounded off Self to a waiting Nemethy, who pounced for the insurance goal.
It was Pow again two minutes into the third period. Nemethy’s pass from behind Self found Pow, whose high wrist shot beat Self for a 3-0 advantage.
Nemethy said he thinks the Leafs weren’t being aggressive during the series’ opening games in Kimberley. Now that it’s proven it can work, he believes they can keep it up.
“Tonight we were on the body and physical and good things happen when we play like that. We’ve just got to keep it up and we’ll be good.”
The Leafs let Kimberley back into the game after Presley Gordon took a double minor for kneeing Dynamiters forward Justin Sommer.
It came to nothing as the Leafs penalty killers kept Kimberley from setting up, and Marshall made key saves including one where he batted away a dangerous rebound.
But only three seconds after the penalty ended Dynamiters forward Jack Karpyshyn’s shot rebounded off Marshall to an undefended Daniels, who had nothing but net to get the visitors on the scoreboard.
The goal gave the Dynamiters life. The ice appeared to open up as the Leafs relaxed their checks, allowing Kimberley to start controlling the neutral zone and setting up on the attack.
Kimberley pulled Self with three minutes left, betting that a long 6-on-5 would pay off. But with one minute left, Noble found space at centre ice and sniped the empty net for the winning goal.
All the hits appeared to add up, and by the end of the game several Dynamiters lost their composure. Pow said that was telling.
“Kimberley doesn’t like getting hit and they start to fold after you hit them up quite a bit. So if we just work on our forecheck, they can’t really compete with us.”
Leaflets: In the Okanagan-Shuswap Conference finals, the Revelstoke Grizzlies took a 3-0 series lead Friday with a 3-1 win over the Osoyoos Coyotes.