The Fernie Ghostriders were a financial success last season. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Financial statements show Riders had a good year

Financial statements show the Fernie Ghostriders were a success last season but their former general manager says they need to do better on the ice.

The team’s 2017 unaudited financial statements revealed by accountant Jason Traska at their Annual General Meeting on May 31 show the Riders made $54,857 in profit last season.

It was a vast improvement over the $275 they made in 2016.

Revenue from beer sales increased to $66,309, which was almost $15,000 more than last season. Ticket sales also increased by almost $32,000 to $116,142.

The team’s overall expenditures were down. Its biggest expenses were training camp, billets and coach salaries and bonuses. Travel costs decreased to $64,077 from $80,405 because of a shorter season and fewer inter-conference games.

The team now has a fund balance of $93,728 compared to the $38,871 it had at the end of last season.

Traska credited the successful year to the excessively snowy winter, which meant more skiers and boarders for Fernie Alpine Resort which translated to more fans for Rider’s games.

“Overall the club’s doing well financially,” he said. “But we should use caution. This was mostly due to the ski hill having a good year. If the snow conditions are not as good next year, we might be back to where we were.”

But Chris Moulton, the Riders’ former assistant coach and general manager, told the assembled board members, coaches and attendees that the team needs to match its financial success with its on-ice performance.

“We were the cream of the crop and now truthfully the Fernie Ghostriders are average,” said Moulton. “The way we are as a group, is middle of the road at best right in the middle of the KIJHL.”

Moulton has had a long and varied career in hockey. He also was one of the original staff members of the Calgary Hitmen and was also involved in the NHL as a part time scout.

The Fernie local now serves as the assistant general manager of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.

He did not mince words on what he thought of the Riders on-ice performance last season.

“I just think we have to step up our game and it starts with the board being on the same page. We need way better lines of communication,” he continued. “Let’s not be happy with making (money) and being mediocre.”

League champions in 2007/2008, the Riders have not had success on the ice for the last few seasons. They finished third in the Eddie Mountain Division last year, earning 55 points before being swiftly eliminated by the Kimberley Dynamiters in the first round of the playoffs.

“I take great pride in saying the Fernie Ghostriders are by far the best Junior B franchise, not team,” said Moulton.

Ghostriders head coach and general manager Craig Mohr said he’s preparing his team for next season.

“My goal always is to win our division and we want to get further in the playoffs,” he said. “I think that’s easy to say. We’re all competitive.”

New additions could make the Riders a formidable force on the ice, he said.

They recently acquired Jace Woodley, a 20-year old who led the Sicamous Eagles in scoring last season.

The team also traded 20-year-old Nolan Legacy to 100 Mile House for 19-year-old Brent Headon. At 6 feet 2 inches and 190 pounds, the large defenceman is a physical presence on the ice, said Mohr.

Team president Barb Anderson said her goal for the coming season is to have the Ghostriders compete for the Cyclone Taylor Cup, a tournament that serves as the British Columbia Provincial Junior B Hockey Championship.

The annual tournament is held between the champions of the province’s three Junior B Hockey Leagues, as well as a host team. The winner of the Cyclone Taylor Cup moves onto the Western Canadian Junior B championship.

“My goal isn’t just to get past Kimberley,” she said. “We have the franchise that can do it, we just have to do all the small things right.”

“At the end of the day most teams in the KIJHL would love our problems,” she added. “Financially our team is extremely sound. We brought it back to where we need it to be.”