Nelson's Sawyer Hunt basking in the glory of Nitros' KIJHL title run
Sawyer Hunt could have been playing for the Nelson Leafs this past season.
The Nelson Minor Hockey product had been a mainstay in the system representing the Heritage City association on rep teams throughout his career — his final season in the Heritage City playing in the BC Hockey Major Midget for a Kootenay Ice squad based out of the NDCC Arena.
But the 5’10” 165-pound forward lived part of his life in Kimberley.
So when the Dynamiters called Hunt didn’t think twice before suiting up for the Bavarian City franchise.
The decision paid off in spades as Hunt was part of a Nitros squad that won the 2015 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Championship last week by taking out the Kamloops Storm in six games.
Hunt & Company now begin quest on the second leg of the Junior B Hockey Championship tour Friday in Mission when Kimberley meets host Outlaws.
“It was amazing,” Hunt told The Nelson Daily when asked about the celebration in Kamloops when Kimberley defeated the host Storm in the deciding game 5-1.
“I was on the ice when the buzzer went so that was really special . . . and it felt so good just to know you accomplished so much and now we’re champions now.”
Hunt’s Junior B career started in Beaver Valley in 2013 as an affiliate player.
Last season the Nitros called up Hunt for five games before the younger brother of Dryden Hunt, who plays in the Western Hockey League for Medicine Hat Tigers, landed a roster spot as a 17-year-old this campaign.
“I was originally from Kimberley so I had some connections over here,” Hunt explained as to why it was so easy to hook up with the Dynamiters.
“The coaching is really good and I also played some AP games for them last season and really enjoyed it so I decided to go.”
Kimberley finished the regular season second in the Eddie Mountain behind division-winning Fernie Ghostriders with a 32-14-2-1-3 record.
Kimberley started the playoff quest by ousting the Creston Valley Thunder Cats in five games, then knocking off division rival Fernie in six.
Next stop was the Kootenay Conference Final where Kimberley dethroned defending KIJHL champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks in five games.
Kimberley did the unthinkable, taking the first three games of the series — two on the road in the Hawks’ Nest — before winning the series, once again, with a series-clinching win on the road in Fruitvale.
In the final, Kimberley’s overtime win in game five may have been the difference as the win appeared to deflate Kamloops as the Okanagan/Shuswap champs came out flat in the final.
Or possibly the difference in the playoff run may have been the play of net minder Tyson Brouwer, winner of 16 of 20 games during Kimberley’s playoff run of 2015.
“(Tyson) is an amazing goalie,” exclaimed Hunt, who totaled six goals and 11 assists in 39 regular-season games for Kimberley.
“He is so consistent and always plays his best in clutch situations.”
“(Tyson) is a huge key to our success,” Hunt added, speaking highly of the 19-year-old Lethbridge native who finished the KIJHL playoffs with a 1.78 goals against average and a .949 save percentage.
Kimberley meets hosts Mission City Outlaws to open the Cyclone Taylor Tournament Friday.
Saturday, Kimberley faces Campbell River Storm before concluding the four-team event Sunday against North Vancouver Wolf Pack.
The top two teams meet for the title while the third and fourth best squads face off in the Bronze medal contest.
Hunt doesn’t believe the Dynamiters should change anything no matter who the KIJHL champs face.
“We’re pretty fast and physical team sow we need to be throwing the body around, moving our feet and just keep playing our game,” Hunt said.
“I think that will lead to success.”
Along with another “amazing” feeling when the final buzzer sounds for the Nelson Minor Hockey grad.