Riders rebound at home
By Matt Laurin
Slow starts have plagued the Fernie Ghostriders as of late.
After stumbling out of the gate in the past few games, the Riders responded with a strong first period on Friday, en route to a 5 – 2 win over the Penticton Lakers.
The Lakers briefly silenced the 877 fans in attendance, scoring just over two minutes into the opening period. It wouldn’t last.
With the Lakers in penalty trouble, the Ghostriders special teams went to work. Derek Georgopoulos scored his 15th goal of the season, before Ben Primeau added a second powerplay marker halfway through the period.
“When we went on the ice for that powerplay, I felt like we needed to really bare down and score,” Georgopoulos said. “The puck just squirted out, and I beat my guy to it and just put it five hole.”
The Riders never looked back. Tyler Gonzalez and Josh McKissock scored late in the second period, before Aaron Neufeld put the game out of reach midway through the third.
Chris Solecki turned away 25 shots for his 19th win of the season, as the Riders outshot the Lakers 35 – 27.
“Recently we’ve had some pretty slow starts. We fell behind early again, but we battled back and really needed that win,” Georgopoulos said.
The Ghostriders (27 – 12 – 1 – 2) now hold a one point lead on the Golden Rockets for first place in the Eddie Mountain Division.
Home ice advantage could be a huge factor come playoff time. The Riders have lost only three times in regulation at home, and play eight of their final 11 games in the friendly confines of Fernie Memorial Arena.
“Home ice is huge for us. Our rink is a lot different than other rinks in the league,” Georgopolous said, referring to the smaller ice surface. “And our fans are the craziest in the league.”
The Ghostriders playoff push continues this weekend, when they host the Creston Valley Thunder Cats and the Kimberley Dynamiters in back-to-back games.
As always, puck drops at 7:30 p.m.