After a massive 8-0 win for the Kimberley Dynamiters in Game One, the Nitros knew they would be up against a very different Nelson Leafs team in Game Two.
Dynamiters head coach and general manager Derek Stuart said after the 8-0 win, “When the puck drops tomorrow, tonight’s [8-0 win] means absolutely nothing.”
That principle applied to both teams. The last time Nelson was shutout on October 28, they went on a seven game win streak. Nelson was prepared to show that losing 8-0 meant nothing to them.
The Leafs’ Keenan Crossman lead the charge in the first period, scoring the Leafs first goal of the game and series.
Former Leaf, Ryan Keilty responded for the Dynamiters, tying the game at one. It was Keilty’s first game back in the lineup since February 3rd.
“Ryan was rusty and hesitant as expected after missing nearly seven weeks.” Stuart said, “What was impressive was how hard he worked and his smart puck decisions.”
Dominating the first period, Nelson’s Ryan Cooper made it 2-1, and then Crossman scored his second of the game, making it 3-1 before the first period was complete.
“In my opinion our confidence turned into cockiness.” Stuart said, “It seemed like we thought we could simply show up and it would be easy. That’s the only explanation I have for perhaps our worst first period of the season.”
Also during the first 20 minutes, both captains, Sawyer Hunt and Brett Roberts, were dealt game misconducts for checking from behind on different plays. Both teams entered the second period captain-less.
The Leafs did not stop their attack as Jaiden LaPorte scored on the power play, 58 seconds into the second period.
The eventual Home Star, Brandt Bertoia, was able to cut the Leafs lead in half, making it 4-2.
That would be how the second period would end, 4-2. The Nitros outshot the Leafs 12-7 this period, but struggled to solve Josh Williams.
Cam Russell would give the Dynamiters hope as he brought them within one goal of the Leafs.
The officials let the teams play five-on-five, creating intense and entertaining hockey. They called one coincidental penalty, until the two minute mark when the Nitros were called for high-sticking. This made it really difficult for the Dynamiters to have their last minute push as the Leafs were attacking on the power play.
Nelson’s eventual Away Star Ryan Piva put the game away scoring on the power play with 48 seconds left.
The Leafs would win Game Two 5-3, handing the Nitros their first home loss of the playoffs.
Looking back at the game it was the first period that determined the outcome of the game,
“Very disappointing first period.” Staurt said. “In the second and third we were much better and started to take advantage of their fatigue. I thought we controlled the game in the last 40 minutes.”
The series now turns into a best-of-five series, giving the Leafs the home advantage. Games Three and Four are in Nelson on Monday and Tuesday.
Stuart has one word for what the Nitros need to improve on going to Nelson, simplify.
“Simplifying things with the puck when we aren’t at our best. We’ve been good in five of the six periods thus far, but in the one period that we were bad we gave them two easy goals by committing unforced errors with the puck.”
Puck drop is 8:30 p.m. (MDT) at Nelson’s Community Complex for both games.