Disappointment reigns for Dynamiter coach

By Jeff Bromley
For those close to the Kimberley
Dynamiter organization, the
announcement that the club would cease
operations only hours before the
opening faceoff of game two of their
AWHL quarter-final playoff against the
Bismarck Bobcats, came with all the
surprise of terminally ill patient. You
know that the prognosis isn’t good, but
still remain upbeat and optimistic that
patient can make the miraculous
recovery and live a normal life. The
Kimberley Dynamiters were in such a
position all season long, struggling to
cover expenses, wondering if at the end
of the day there would still be hockey in
the Bavarian City. There were whispers
and innuendo of the team’s forecasted
demise, but as in any small town – they
were written off as only rumors and you
would hope that the club would survive
to see another game.

For Nitro’s Head Coach Nels Ecklund,
who’s seen more than his fair share of
the Dynamiter’s off-ice troubles this past
season including covering the teams
expenses while on the road on different
occasions and is still awaiting his last
paycheck, the biggest disappointment is
not for himself but for the club’s hockey
players who worked hard all season long
to get to the AWHL playoffs only to
have the rug pulled from under them.
“It’s still something that is very difficult
to accept,” said Ecklund. “I still look at
the fact where the biggest people who
were affected in it all were the 24
players who put so much effort into
their season and were looking forward
to their playoff run and having that
opportunity for a championship taken
away is really difficult for me.”
Along with the abrupt folding of the
Dynamiters comes many questions. Why
couldn’t this long standing tradition of
hockey in the South Eastern British
Columbia mining city not generate
enough revenue in order for its Junior
‘A’ hockey club to survive? Coach
Ecklund says it was a number of factors.
“It’s a combination of a few different
things. One of them being expenses in
this league (AWHL) are considerably
higher than what they used to be in the
Rocky Mountain League and with that
being the case, our revenues haven’t
increased enough in order to offset our
expenses,” said Ecklund. “It seemed that
everyday we were losing more money
and it had to come to an end eventually
and one of the reasons that former
owner Jim Stuart didn’t want to be
involved this year was because of the
amount of money he lost last year and it
didn’t seem to be a feasible operation.”
There is a little bitterness in Ecklund’s
tone when the discussion turns to the
timing of the decision to terminate the
Nitros season especially with the
revelation that the Dynamiters Booster
society had come forward with
assurances of enough money to make
sure the club had made it through the
playoffs, but the former Cranbrook Colt
Captain says that hindsight is always
twenty-twenty. “In hindsight you could
look at all the different ways to make
ends meet and that was definitely one of
them. I think that the AWHL could’ve
handled matters a lot differently in the
fact they could’ve put their foot down a
little earlier in our season and it would
have given us more time to put a
contingency plan into place.”

The fact remains though, that the long
tradition of hockey, be it Senior or
Junior is now gone in Kimberley and
what the future holds is, at least for
now, uncertain. Ecklund admits that
there are still some possibilities for
junior hockey in Kimberley other than
that of the AWHL. “Looking at it a
couple of different ways, the Alberta
Junior would definitely be the best
option at this point but that would be
left up to the Alberta Junior executive.
The second option would be the Junior
‘B’ option which, cost wise, would be
good for Kimberley but you would lose
a caliber of hockey, which would be

“The positive side is that Kimberley
would still have a competitive hockey
team people could come out and support
and get some entertainment out of.”
The demise of the Dynamiters leaves the
Fernie Ghostriders as the only Canadian
entry into the AWHL. The close
proximity of the two cities enabled the
two to have at least one close road
opponent in the vast expanse that is the
AWHL. Ecklund acknowledges that it is
going to be difficult for the Ghostriders
to survive without the Nitros. “I think
that Fernie could survive with some help
from the AWHL and possibly from the
remaining teams in the United States.
“With the expansion of the league to
Missoula and Helena coming back in it
would help Fernie’s situation but there’s
no doubt that losing Kimberley would
affect them greatly.”

Ecklund’s future in the profession of
coaching is at the moment, on hold. A
B.C. Forestry Firefighter by trade,
Ecklund is weighing his options and is
seeing what opportunities might become
available after the end of hockey season.
“The firefighting is still an option for
my summertime work,” said Ecklund.
“Ultimately I would like to stay in
coaching year round but if the
opportunity isn’t there for me I’m going
to have to obviously look out for my
number one priority which would be my
family and making sure that there’s food
on the table. Whatever the case may be,
I definitely have to look out for them