Riley Fonger, Fernie Ghostriders starting goaltender, is a columnist with The Free Press. File photo

|Between the pipes| Part three: The Goal

A special feature series by Riley Fonger, Fernie Ghostriders starting goaltender

Part three: The Goal

Stepping on the ice and playing early season games always gets the nerves going; you almost feel as if you’re playing with two left feet.

The tide could shift either way as you prepare yourself for the battle ahead. Going up against a brand new opponent, you’re keen to prove your worth around the league; eager to show that you are no small challenge. Our team was ready to take on any task thrown our way and had the confidence in ourselves and each other to perform.

A huge part of hockey, or any sport, is confidence. It comes in waves and can completely change the way a player or team feels, plays, as well as their mindset going into a game. Confidence is something that you can feel in your gut. It lives in the air and the atmosphere around you, and it’s a state of mind that allows you to perform at your best.

To this day I can’t explain the feeling, but what I do know is that the Ghostriders had confidence that we were going to win.

As the week progressed, so did my confidence coming off from our win against Castlegar. I was feeling good in the room and I could tell the boys were ready to rise to the occasion. We had two big games coming up the following weekend against Golden and 100 Mile House that we prepared all week for. We went into the games with certainty, and battled our hardest to seize both wins. However, the real test was only beginning.

We were faced with undeniably our biggest game of the year, against the Revelstoke Grizzlies. They were first in the league, undefeated, and sitting on the throne; our throne. We prepared throughout our week in practice, training hard with one shared goal: suppressing our adversary.

Friday night approached. The sun dimmed and the lights of the arena shimmered in our gaze. It was time to go to war with a giant.

As soon as the puck dropped you could tell we dictated the pace, putting tons of pressure on them when they had the puck, forcing them to fumble it and allow an early goal by Aiden Gleisner.

The second period came with us being repressed by penalties, and fatigue crept up on us as the puck refused to leave our zone.

We managed to enter the third with a 2-1 lead, however, luck is found where it is earned and we quickly stumbled down to a 3-2 deficit in the first five minutes of play. We were burdened by our mistakes, however we couldn’t let this get in the way of our ultimate goal. Late in the third our focus returned and we were able to tie the game, and send it into overtime.

There is no greater pressure than an overtime situation; every single decision is critical and even the slightest slip up can decide a team’s fate. However, the victor wouldn’t be decided in four on four, so we advanced to a three on three overtime. The pressure sat even heavier and with just seconds left in overtime, a pinpoint shot over my shoulder secured Revelstoke the win. We were in grasp of our goal and could see the end of the tunnel, but came up short and were riddled with defeat.

It’s moments like these that can really gel a team together. We knew we had to keep our spirits high and couldn’t let this get the best of us. It was only one small bump in the road on our journey.

 

Riley Fonger, Fernie Ghostriders starting goaltender, is a columnist with The Free Press. File photo

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