Sports

Riders sweep Rockets

Brendan Burge scores on a breakaway Friday night in Fernie. - Matt Laurin
Brendan Burge scores on a breakaway Friday night in Fernie.
— image credit: Matt Laurin

The Fernie Ghostriders are heading to the second round of the playoffs, after sweeping the Golden Rockets in four straight games.

With their backs against the wall, the Rockets gave the Riders all they could handle in game four, before Stefan Seel scored the series-clinching goal in double overtime.

“Give credit to Golden. Some teams would lie down after going down three to nothing, but they played really hard tonight,” said Head Coach Will Verner. “We played them 12 times this year, but that was the best effort I’ve seen from them all season.”

Fernie hosted Golden in the first two games of the series, hammering them 6 – 1 in the opener, before winning 4 – 2 to protect home ice advantage.

Verner was impressed with his team’s focus.

“I thought we came out really strong in game one. We chipped pucks in, finished our hits, shot the puck and by the third period we had worn them down.”

“In game two, I thought they pushed back well. It was tied at two late in the game, and then Connor McLaughlin took over.”

McLaughlin scored twice in the final four minutes, and led all Rider forwards with an impressive 10 points in the series.

“He was our best player in the series, from an offensive and defensive standpoint. He plays every situation and leads the charge on the physical side.”

The Riders carried the momentum with them when they headed to Golden for games three and four.

“In game three, we might have played our best first period of the year. We had 21 shots and jumped out to a quick three goal lead,” explained the head coach.

“Tonight, we didn’t have the same start, but our play got better as the game went on. It was good to be challenged tonight and to go to overtime.”

Fernie will now await the outcome of the other divisional series, where the Kimberley Dynamiters currently have a 3 – 1 series lead over the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. That series resumes Thursday night in Kimberley.

Meanwhile, the Ghostriders got some good news as goaltender Chris Solecki returned to the line up after battling mono the past few weeks. He showed no signs of fatigue, turning away 41 of 43 shots in game four.

Derek Georgopolous remains the only Ghostrider on the shelf with injury, but is expected to return at some point in the second round.

Playoff hockey resumes next week in Fernie. Stay tuned to find out who the Riders will host in the second round.

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