Ghostriders climb Rockies in nail biting home victory

The Ghostriders took a nail biting 6-5 victory at home against the Columbia Valley Rockies, a battle not easily won.

Fernie was first to score, less than three minutes into the first period. Columbia Valley matched their pace with a quick return goal less than one minute later. Seven minutes passed before another goal was scored, this time by Fernie. The Ghostriders rode this wave, scoring another, before the Rockies made it a one-point game.

At 3-2 going into the second period, the Ghostriders managed to maintain their one-point lead the remainder of the game.

Scoring two more, the Ghostriders held a comfortable three point lead. Columbia Valley was able to score two more before the end of the period, but not without a point returned for Fernie.

With10 minutes left in the game, Columbia Valley brought the score up to 5-6, however they were not able to overcome the deficit.

An intense last few minutes had members of the crowd standing, and when the buzzer finally sounded, Fernie’s goaltender Chance Griffith closed his eyes and let his head fall back in relief.

Ghostriders head coach Jeff Wagner admitted that although it wasn’t how they drew up the game beforehand, a victory was nice to see nonetheless.

With the exception of the third period, Wagner thought they were in control the majority of the game. After the intensity of the last period, the coach said he was grateful to walk away with two points for their team.

Emotions were already high between the two teams, due to many opposing team members having played with each other for many years before. However it was a hit and dog pile into the corner that shortened the fuse on an already ticking time bomb. Several players broke out into a scrum which resulted in penalties on both sides. The play was stopped for several minutes while referees worked to calm down both teams and make sense of the situation.

“There’s a lot of familiar faces on both teams so it probably amplifies the intensity on the ice, and bragging rights are on the line when you know more guys than if you don’t know a bunch of them,” he said.

Looking forward to their game the following night against Osoyoos, Wagner didn’t know what to expect. Referencing their 8-2 road win against the Okanagan team last year, he said every year is different.

He said every game against a team you haven’t played in a year is unpredictable.

The Ghostriders went on to win 7-1.

A few months into the season, Wagner said they are still working on their consistency. A young group, he said they are still working through learning curves and growing pains. He admitted that sometimes it takes rookies half a season to get comfortable.

“Considering we’re such a young team, we’re very optimistic that we’ve had a fairly decent start to the season,” he said. “And we’re hoping that the majority of the group are getting comfortable with this league, the pace and the details of the game.

Just five games away from their 25-game halfway point in the season, Wagner hopes their team hits a turnaround point and a winning streak.

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The Fernie Ghostriders held a one-point lead to secure a victory against the Columbia Valley Rockies, Friday. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

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