The Fernie Ghostriders won both of their games over the weekend. The Riders defeated the Columbia Valley Rockies on Nov. 4 with a 5-2 win, getting back at the Rockies for defeating them at home the week before. Nov. 5 had the Ghostriders taking on the Nelson Leafs for the first time this season, which resulted in a 3-2 win on the road. The Free Press spoke with Head Coach Craig Mohr and some of the Ghostriders after their home game win against the Rockies.
“Credit to Creston – they came out well and they had us running around pinned in our own zone for the first ten minutes. They got their two nothing lead. We gave them the first goal but the second goal when they were on a penalty kill just took the wind out of our sails and the guys were flat on the bench,” said Mohr. “Tonight our power play went four for seven. You do not always get seven power plays in a row, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t take advantage of it. Our power play got the game to 2-1 and that brought some life back in the guys. So we just worked, worked, worked and drew a penalty in their zone. Sure enough a scramble off a draw got us tied up. I don’t know how many times last year we got scored on just before the end of a period but it felt good to score with two seconds left.”
The crowd felt the power play presence along with the team. Mitch Titus, a centreman for the Riders believed that the team came out much stronger than their last home game against the Rockies and that was reflected in the team’s power play.
“This week we came out and actually executed. I felt a lot better that we got better as the 60 minutes went on which was a lot better then last week because we were slow the whole game,” he said. “We capitalized on our power play which is phenomenal, it is always good to have seven power plays and make them count.”
Mohr believes that one of the reasons for the Rider’s slow start was the lack of communication on the team.
“When there is no communication no one knows where each other is going. Sometimes the guys like to put what I call the cones of silence on when they step on the ice and no one is talking,” he said. “You can’t play this game without talking, especially against a team that is coming at you like Columbia Valley was. We finally started communicating late in the first and made some plays.”
The Riders had fewer bodies on the bench during their Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 games while the injury and suspension list is longer than the coach expected.
“It is some important people out of our line up. You would not have thought with having eight defencemen that you’d be short on the backhand,” said Mohr. “Tristan Downe had his first game of the year with us and I said ‘welcome to the fire, here is 30 minutes of ice because we have no one else back there. I think he played really well for his first game. So the injury and suspension list is long and we have two of our assistant captains out and all of a sudden we are looking around. But that means our younger guys are getting more of a role in the game. Huge credit to Justin Garcia, he didn’t play a ton but he played very well. He was really composed out there and it was a physical game. He played phenomenal because he played within himself and his abilities.”
Joey Stensland played for the Riders for a few weeks last winter before returning home to Calgary. He came back for his first full year with the Riders and has been getting a lot more ice time due to the teams injuries and suspensions.
“This is my first year. It is pretty incredible. I played Junior B hockey in Cochrane Alberta last year and this is definitely a step up as far as the fans, calibre of hockey and coaching goes,” he said. “I was living in Calgary when I was playing in Cochrane last year. Living at home was nice but I wanted to gain some experience living away from home and playing hockey with a team. It is good life experience.”
According to Evan Traverse, a Fernie local who plays centre on the team believes the team had a strong showing at home because of their rigorous practices.
“We were a bit slow at the start but we came back half way through the first and really turned it on. I think that all starts with practices. We had a really good week of practices and we worked hard and it really showed today,” he said.
When speaking to Mohr after the teams home game win he was looking forward to playing Nelson for the first time this season.
“From what I hear, Nelson is really good offensively, good on the rush but I have heard that they may struggle a bit when they are pressured in their end – which is our game. Our goal is to get pucks behind their defencemen and just press, press, press.”
The coaches thoughts were echoed by Kevin Pierce, a second year defencemen.
“We are in Nelson tomorrow night, we have to be ready for them and put in the same amount of effort. We have not seen them yet. We have to establish our forecheck right away and be dominant. If we can execute on our power plays like tonight’s game then we will come out ahead,” he said.
The next home game for the Riders is Nov. 10, where they will be hosting Golden and a second home game on Nov. 12 will have the team hosting Columbia Valley.