Dynamiters Demise signal end of an era

By Jeff Bromley

The Kimberley Dynamiters are ceasing operations at the cusp of their 2001 AWHL playoff run.
A club so entrenched within the psyche
of the Bavarian City that the Dynamiters
themselves predate the moniker
adoption of the now-famous Bavarian
theme by some 40 years. Save for
perhaps the Sullivan Mine, that enabled
Kimberley’s existence in the first place, it
was the Dynamiters hockey club over
the span of almost 75 years
that most identified the city Kimberley

It would be easy to dwell on the many
reasons and theories for the demise of
the AWHL Junior A Dynamiters. An
attendance ceiling that could seemingly
never be surpassed, the economic reality
of the Sullivan Mine on the verge of
closure in the city, the glaringly obvious
economic discrepancy for the Nitros
playing in a league populated with
mostly American clubs and even the
arrival of the Kootenay ICE to the
region three years ago could all be
counted as reasons for the folding of the
Dynamiters. Instead we can remember the stories, anecdotes and
players of all incarnations of the Nitros
that wore proudly the stick of Dynamite
emblazoned on their jerseys. The fierce
rivalry of Cranbrook Colts/Royals and
the Kimberley Dynamiters that on many
occasions and in many different eras
required police escorts for fans and
players alike returning back to their
respective cities. The RMJHL
Dynamiters becoming the first club to
even win a game against the BCJHL
Champions in the Doyle Cup in more
than eight years of trying. The great
Nitros club of 1997 who only lost five
games all season. Of course the most
poignant edition of the Dynamiters was
the old Senior WIHL edition of 1977-78
that culminated in an Allen Cup
Championship, which at that time was
arguably second to only the Stanley
Cup. Such an effect that club had on me
that I can still name most of the players
from that squad; Goalies Wayne Bell
and Barry ‘Moose’ Mackay, Jim
McCrimmon, Dallas Ellerby, Barry
Cummins, Brian Macklin, John
Migneault, Dale Booth, Aurel ‘Frenchie’
Beaudin, Ken Ireland, Captain Glen
‘Shaky’ Walton, Len Hicks, Jeff Ablett.
The miraculous playoff run of the Nitros
that year were so special that my mum
let me attend games on school nights for
the first time. Over 2000 screaming fans
packed the Civic Center in the days
before music between face-offs,
marketing gimmicks and plexiglass
surrounding the ice surface. City after
city came to Kimberley only to be
defeated. Places such as Drumheller,
Brandon, Brantford that a seven-yr-old
fan had never heard of. It was indeed a
special time for the city of Kimberley
and its rabid hockey fans. Of course
there were many from that era that
contributed to the league’s flamboyance.
Del Iannone, father of current Kootenay
ICE player Pat Iaonne who toiled for the
Trail Smoke Eaters. Leroy Heustis,
(Trail) arguably the most hated player in
the league, Leo Karchie (Cranbrook
Royals) among countless others.
There are probably thousands of stories
held in the hearts of old-timers of the
Nitros escapades over the years
including many from the powerhouse
club of 1936 that won not only the Allen
Cup but the World Hockey
Championship the following year. The
truth is that the Kimberley Dynamiters
as we now know them are no longer.
Only the memories of a franchise that
will live long in our hearts and never be
forgotten remain.

What does the future for hockey hold in
store for Kimberley? Does the possibility
of a Junior ‘B’ franchise, with its lower
operating costs relative to the existing
fan base, emerge as the Junior ‘A’ clubs
from Creston, Nelson and Castlegar
have done? Only time will tell but if
anything, hockey in Kimberley has
proven it’s been a survivor from era to
era. Don’t bet against the Nitros rising
from the ashes once again.