Dynamiters load up

dynamitersOriginally published in the Cranbrook Daily Townsman & Kimberley Daily Bulletin (Aug. 19, 2014)

The Kimberley Dynamiters have acquired forward Matt Lucero (1994) from the Revelstoke Grizzlies in exchange for the playing rights to defenceman Owen Solecki (1994).

“He’ll be a top-six forward,” said Dynamiters GM Dave Smith Tuesday afternoon. “He’ll probably get some power-play and penalty-kill time.

“We’re going to hit rough spots and I expect him to kind of calm the dressing room down and play that leadership role.”

The native of North Vancouver comes into training camp as the Dynamiters only player to be entering his 20-year-old season.

Lucero posted nine goals and 13 points in 47 games with the Grizzlies last season. It was Lucero’s first full campaign in the KIJHL after having a two-game cup of coffee with the Grand Forks Border Bruins in 2012-13.

As for Solecki, the 19-year-old hasn’t stepped on KIJHL ice since the 2011-12 season when he split time with the Osoyoos Coyotes and Dynamiters. The 6-foot-2 blueliner has spent the previous two seasons with the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).

While the Dynamiters are welcoming Lucero into the fold, they also say goodbye to power forward Tyler Garcia (1995).

Garcia, 19, has committed to suit up for the Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

“He can play at that level,” Smith said of Garcia. “We’re very proud of him for making it there and wish him all the best.”

The 6-foot, 203-pound forward split the 2013-14 season between the Dynamiters and Nelson Leafs. After arriving in Kimberley, Garcia registered 13 points in 21 games. His biggest impact came in the playoffs, stacking up seven goals and nine points in nine games.

To help fill the void, Smith has carded 1996-born forward Keenan Haase of Mission Viejo, Calif.

Haase, who spent the 2013-14 season with the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, measures in at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. Smith hopes the newcomer can give the Dynamiters a stronger presence in front of the net and in the offensive zone.

“In my opinion, that’s what we’ve been lacking in the past,” Smith said. “We’ve been a little bit small. We’ve been able to score, but we’ve been pushed around a little bit.”

The Dynamiters are slated to open training camp Aug. 29 at the Kimberley Civic Centre.

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