Shortly before the Kimberley Dynamiters took home the KIJHL championship on Sunday night, the Kamloops Storm’s coach made a boast that incensed 17-year-old Nelsonite Sawyer Hunt.
“They have a really nice rink in Kamloops, a big Olympic surface, and we’d lost both of our games there. Then their coach went out there and said we couldn’t win in their barn. He said there’s no way,” said Hunt, who is the younger brother of local hockey star Dryden Hunt.
The comment, made in a local newspaper, incensed the team as they headed into Game 6 of the series. They endeavoured to prove him wrong, and their aggressive performance ended with the team skating to an easy 5-1 victory over their Kamloops competitors.
“Their coach made it pretty obvious we can’t win in this building and that’s pretty good fuel for the fire,” coach Jerry Bancks said. “When you have athletes like Jason Richter, Tyler Kinnon and people like that, it’s a mistake to tell somebody they can’t do something.
“They were pretty fired up.”
Winning in Kamloops wasn’t an easy task for the Dynamiters. In fact, Game 6 was the only game in the KIJHL championship in which the visitors came out on top at McArthur Park Arena.
After claiming a 2-0 series lead on home ice, the Dynamiters travelled to Kamloops and dropped Games 3 and 4 at McArthur Park Arena, before sneaking out a 3-2 double-overtime victory in front of 1,358 fans back on home ice in Game 5.
Hunt credited goalie Tyson Brouwer for a strong game.
“He was a big part of the success, but it was also that we were out there blocking shots, finishing all our checks. We’re one of the fitter teams out there, and in Game 6 it paid off.”
He said the Storm gave up early.
“We were up 3-1 going into the third period and they just came out flat. We got another quick one off the bat and they really weren’t doing much.”
Hunt has made a name for himself as a strong defense player. He said his skills have improved enormously since coming under the tutelage of Bancks.
“Our coach is so good. He runs hard practices, keeps us in shape, and he knows the game so well. I think he’s the best coach I’ve ever had.”
Bancks was similarly effusive on game night.
“I am absolutely thrilled for this group of guys. They’re a great group on and off the ice,” Bancks said.
“I’ve known some of these kids since they were in diapers. I know what they’ve put into it and they’ve had ups and downs in their hockey lives. It’s so nice they came together and they’ll have a memory [like this] for the rest of their lives.
“We only hope we can carry on from here and create some more memories.”
With files from Taylor Rocca, Black Press