By Matt Laurin
The Fernie Ghostriders season came to an end on Tuesday, after they lost 4 – 1 to the Golden Rockets in game six of the Eddie Mountain Division finals.
It was a disappointing finish for the Riders, who were playing without key players, including captain Josh McKissock, who was injured after a hit from behind in game four of the series.
The Rockets, however, deserve full credit, and become the first team outside of the Elk Valley to win the Eddie Mountain Division title since 2005. Golden goaltender James Leonard was remarkable throughout the regular season, and continues to prove he is one of the best goaltenders in the KIJHL.
Ghostriders goaltender Chris Solecki was equally spectacular in the final games of the series. After surrendering 13 goals against in two previous games in Golden, Solecki responded with a 2 – 0 shutout win in game five in Fernie, while giving the Riders every opportunity to win in game six.
After splitting the first two games in Fernie, the Riders struggled to find their game on the road.
Fernie jumped to a 2 – 0 first period lead in game three, but Golden responded with four powerplay goals, en route to a 7 – 3 win. The Riders, meanwhile, went 0 – 7 on the man advantage.
In game four, the Rockets jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Despite an increased offensive push, including powerplay markers from Tyler Gonzalez and Braeden Monk, the Riders were never close to drawing even.
Despite playing without captain Josh McKissock in game five, the Riders responded at home. Chris Solecki was unbeatable in net, while Aaron Neufeld and Ben Primeau both scored for the home team.
Game six moved back to Golden, where the Rockets protected their home ice. Turnovers below their own blue line proved costly to the Ghostriders, and the inability to clear the zone in the second period was the difference.
In the end, the Rockets took advantage of their best opportunities, while the Riders simply came up short.
The Ghostriders season has come to an end, but the 2013 KIJHL playoffs continue this week. Stay tuned for updates, and thanks for supporting your Fernie Ghostriders. See you in September.