In this week’s heated Valentine’s Day match on home ice, full stands hollered down as Fernie’s Ghostriders crushed the Spokane Braves 3-2 in the second period of overtime. This suspenseful game marked the team’s thirtieth win this season; a notable accomplishment worthy of both praise and a deserving reputation as one of the strongest teams in their division.
The boys started off strong, with Hunter Maximnuk scoring the Riders a fiery goal in the first period. Preventing the opposition from advancing, the Riders maintained their lead until the second period, when the Braves came up from behind matching the score at one-all. With strong goaltending from Brett Balas, as well as powerful defensive plays and laudable teamwork, the Riders held the score at 1-1 throughout the remainder of the second period.
“He helped us out when we coughed up pucks and were a little bit messy in front of him,” said head coach Jeff Wagner of Balas’s applaudable performance.
Wagner also praised Owen Titus for his versatility stepping up in various roles throughout the game.
“He was a guy that played both defense and forward throughout the game for us, and I thought that he had a really good strong match,” said Wagner.
After being scored on by the Braves early in the third period, the Riders displayed their infamous devotion and focus, refusing to let the opposition further advance their lead. Just before the buzzer, Gavin Lawrie fired a shot into the net, raising the crowd to their feet and tying the score at 2-2, taking the match into overtime.
“I really liked our team’s resiliency tonight,” said Wagner. “We killed a lot of penalties tonight and faced some adversity thorough the referees, so I liked our response and our ability to get two points.”
Neither team scored in the first period of overtime, palpably heightening tension in the arena. At 2:50 in the second period of overtime, Seamus Keith scored the game winning goal, ending the match and earning him Star of the Game. The totals capped off with 41 shots on net taken by the Braves, and 42 by the Riders.
Up next for the boys are two games on home ice, as the Riders take on Grand Forks on February 21, followed by another game against Columbia Valley the following evening.
“We’re playing Columbia Valley twice in the next three games. They’re the team we’re likely to play in the first round, so that’ll be a good opportunity for us to really set the standard for us going into the playoffs,” said Wagner.
As they move into the playoffs in two weeks, Wagner says the team is both confident and ready to put all of their hard work on the line for a medal.