By Ezra Black & Phil McLachlan
On Nov. 10, Ghostriders coach Craig Mohr welcom¬ed a key player back onto his bench and the move paid dividends.
The Riders bench boss reunited winger Justin Peers with line mates Ty Abbott and Aidan Wilson as the team put up a dominant performance, beating the Golden Rockets 6-2 in front of a raucous home crowd.
Peers netted three points in his first match back after serving a two game suspension for a hit from behind.
“I hate missing games,” he said in a post-game interview. “It’s agonizing to watch when I’m sitting in the stands and I can’t play. It was good to be back, I had my legs going and good things happened tonight.”
In the first period Riders’ goalie Brandon Butler faced a total of two shots. Rockets goalie Owen Sikkes was barraged with 30.
By the end of the second the Riders were outshooting the rockets 41 – 7 and by the end of the game shots-on-goal favoured the home team 54-19.
“Can’t be too mad about that one,” said Peers. “It was one of the best performances I’ve seen in a while. It was awesome to see. We had our forecheck working, we were getting shots on the goalie and we had traffic in front.”
Peers opened the scoring in the first period on a goal that was assisted by Mitch Titus and Joey Stensland. He then assisted on a Titus goal in the third and added an empty-netter with 50 seconds to go to cap the scoring.
“It was all my teammates work; I was just the one to put the puck in the net,” he said. “Our line had a good game offensively and defensively out there.”
While the Rockets rallied with goals from Bryce Mcdonald and Carter Vouri, the result of this game was all but decided by Alex Cheveldaye, who netted the winner about six minutes into the second period.
It was the Riders’ third victory in a row.
Saturday’s home game against the Columbia Valley Rockies was anything but dull, with both teams viciously pursuing the win throughout all three periods.
The Ghostriders started out slow, but were fueled by the Rockies first goal at just over nine minutes into the first period. Two minutes later the Ghostriders evened out the one goal deficit, tying the game with 9:36 seconds left in the first period. This sparked a beautiful possession game by the Riders, allowing them to score three more in just over two minutes. With 7:23 left in the first period, the Ghostriders led the game 4-1. For a moment the win looked secured, but this carelessness cost them two goals before the end of the first period, leaving it at a close 4-3 game going into the second.
Two and a half minutes into the second period, Mike Dyck passed a beautiful puck to Joey Stensland who was able to put away another goal for the Ghostriders. One minute later, another smooth play put the Riders at a 6-3 lead, with 16 minutes left in the second.
The eight minutes following this goal were disastrous for the Riders, and the Rockies dominated the rink, scoring four goals to take a 7-6 lead. With only 49 seconds left in the period, a power play set up allowed Kevin Pierce, Mitch Titus and Mike Dyck to maneuver their way up the rink, sinking the puck to make it 7-7.
Anticipation was high as both teams entered the third period with even scores. Both the Riders and the Rockies seemed to amp it up at this point in the game, and tension seemed to get the better of a few players. There were 22 penalties handed out throughout the entire game, nine of which belonged to the Ghostriders.
“When we play Columbia Valley, it’s always a hard-nosed game,” said Riders Captain Alex Cheveldave in a post-game interview. “They like playing the same way we do, which is banging bodies and getting the pucks deep, and getting a good fore check which always leads to biting each other a bit.”
“Guys are going to be feeling it after that one,” he added.
Going into the third period, two of the Ghostriders seven goals were scored by Justin Peers, and he kept up the pressure going into the third period. With 12:19 left in the game, an aggressive three-player break away allowed Peers to score his third goal of the game, giving the Riders a one-point lead, which secured them the game.
Peers believes that his onslaught of goals was a direct result of his line-mates support.
“They did all the hard work for me,” he said. “I was just in an open spot: right place right time. Those are the guys that helped me get all my goals and you can’t give them enough credit for that.”
“He’s starting to get hot,” said Head Coach, Craig Mohr. “He’s one of our goal scorers and he’s starting to light the lamp. He’s starting to put some goals in.”
Looking back on the game, Ghostriders Head Coach, Craig Mohr was surprised at the outcome.
“I was not expecting 8-7,” he said. “I don’t remember in my three years, that we’ve had an 8-7 game. Maybe it was a lack of focus on the defensive side for both teams. There was definitely some missed checks and some guys getting open.”
“But offensively, what can you say, you put up eight. Outstanding job offensively. That’s was an old time 80’s hockey game, a little run and gun.”
In relation to the 22 total game penalties, Mohr expressed some concern at loosing players including defenseman Derek Green, who was charged with a game misconduct in the last 10 minutes of the game. Early on in the game, the Riders lost Nolan Legace to an upper-body shoulder injury.
“We got some marks on us tonight, but we’re reevaluate this week, and it looks like we’ll be getting some more bodies back,” said the Coach. “It looks like Trevor Broad is pretty close. We may be getting some in and getting some out.”
“We controlled our own destiny this weekend; we got the four points. It’s all we can do,” he added.
Before next weekend’s series of games, Coach Mohr will be drilling the Riders, focusing especially on net coverage and defensive strategies.
On a four-game winning streak, Mohr looks to next Friday’s game, which will once again be against Columbia Valley, away from home.
“I’m expecting it’ll be a high-intensity game again,” said Mohr.