Three minutes left until the puck drops; the Fernie Ghostriders sit in their locker room, in the dark, with a single candle lit in the middle of the room.
They’re about to face an unfamiliar opponent, the Summerland Steam, a team also ranked second in their respective Okanagan division.
The Ghostriders are preparing for a battle, reminded by head coach Jeff Wagner that this team is not to be underestimated.
What followed was three periods of dominating plays and scoring opportunities for the Ghostriders, who eventually took a 7-0 victory.
It was Fernie forward Gavin Lawrie who was named player of the match, and for good reason; the ex-Summerland player scored three goals for the home team.
Alaister Standen, Brennen Wingenbach, Seamus Keith and Johnny Elias also put away goals for the Ghostriders.
Penalties were even across the board with each team taking four by the end of the match.
Fernie dominated in shots, scoring seven of 53 shots, compared to Summerland’s 31 unsuccessful attempts.
Head Coach Jeff Wagner said he was extremely pleased with Fernie’s execution on the ice. In similar positions in their divisions, Wagner said he didn’t expect to take a victory like that.
“The game plan is never to go in and win seven nothing by any means, when it happens it’s great for sure,” he said. “We came in definitely respecting what Summerland brought, and they play a good speed game and a good transition game.”
Wagner said he thought his team did a good job stifling their transitions and in turn, Fernie built their own transition game off of good team plays.
“It wasn’t how we drew it up but it worked out better than we did,” he said.
This was the first time Fernie had played Summerland at home in over five years.
In between the second and third period Wagner talked with the team about their 3-0 lead and how the game wasn’t over yet. He encouraged them to keep playing like they were during the first and second, and to not lose focus on the puck.
“I really liked the response from our team going into the third period,” said Wagner.
“It was funny – I think one of the comments (after the second period) was, there’s no reason we can’t beat these guys 6-0… and we beat them 7-0. So we obviously played the right way in the third,” he said.
Friday’s game on October 18 took place one day after the two-year anniversary of the ammonia leak, and emotions were high. Before the game began, coach Wagner reminded his players of the significance of the night.
“We have a handful of guys that went through it two seasons ago. (There are) A lot of new faces in our room since then. So making sure they are aware of what happened, the impact that it was, and the important people in the community that we lost,” said Wagner.
“Just making sure that we put our best foot forward tonight for those people who were affected by that tragedy,” he added.
The following night, the Ghostriders travelled to Beaver Valley where they lost 8-3. Despite Fernie’s strong start, the Nitehawks overtook them in the second and didn’t look back.
Fernie’s next home game is Saturday, October 26 against the Creston Valley Thundercats.