Since the weeklong break the Ghostriders had over Christmas, the team has not put in a full game of effort, according to head coach Craig Mohr. They lost three of their four games last week, earning only three out of a possible eight points overall – a Dec. 28 loss and an overtime win on Dec. 29 against Kimberley, and back to back losses against Creston on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. The loss on Jan. 2 moved had Creston edge the Ghostriders out of second place in the Eddie Mountain Division by one point.
“All four games we had after our Christmas break, we didn’t put 60 minutes together. We had great 20 minute intervals, but we never played a full 60 of it. When you play good teams, you can only go to the well so many times in the third period on comebacks,” said Mohr. “Tonight, again we didn’t have a great first, got a little better in the second, got it tied in the third and then, what credit to them. They went out and got the goal, and you’re not going to do third-period comebacks all year.
Cole Keebler returned to the bench this week after a month on the injury list along with Zach Befus. Unfortunately, the team had a few more players join the injury reserve (IR) list.
“Keebler is back, Befus is back, we have lost [Alex] Cheveldave probably until the playoffs – he broke his index finger, but he broke it up high. [Keagan] Kingwell has a concussion right now, so that could be two weeks or that could be until the playoffs, you never know with that,” said Mohr after the Jan. 2 game. “Mack Differenz is getting pretty close with his hand, he is skating, he is shooting, so he is our next one off of the IR. Tonight, we didn’t have Evan Reid – just one of those got a migraine while he was at the rink so he couldn’t play tonight. Nothing we are not used to.”
The team factors the IR list into their decisions and can shift some of the pressure of goal scoring and special teams when key players are out.
“We build around [injuries], we lose key players all the time we have been injured all year, and we have really rallied together. With all the adversity that comes to us, we are able to battle back,” said Cole Keebler.
The first of the Creston doubleheader was an away game. The Fernie squad fought back in the third period to send the game into overtime. They got a point but failed to clinch the win.
“We were really flat for the first two periods. No energy, we weren’t hitting, we didn’t generate much. Third period we came out flying, down 3-0, credit to the guys. [They’re] down 3-0 and they storm back and tie it up 3-3 We outplayed them in the overtime,” said Mohr. “Their goalie made some saves, and one of their skilled [players] – [Alec] Wilkinson – made a play and scored a goal. We came out of there okay, we got a point out of that which was nice. Today I was really expecting us to come out flying, but we were really flat off of the start.”
The second game against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats was in the Fernie Memorial Arena. While the Ghostriders lost 3-1, the squad has plans to get back on track through practices and put more effort into what the team is known for – hard work.
“Practice is always the good time to level everything off and get back to some of the stuff we need to do – get back to our work ethic, get back to pushing for 60 minutes with energy. It’s not awful. We didn’t go 0-4, we got three points, but there were eight points available,” said Mohr. “We just got to re-juice and get back to our identity of outworking teams. I’m confident they will, it’s just a little bump in the road and you need those through a season to motivate and bring it back to reality.”
Getting back to the hard work mentality is something that the players also echoed.
“We were flat all night, couldn’t really get anything going. We showed glimpses of what we could accomplish, but we didn’t have anything for the full 60 minutes,” said Justin Peers, who scored the lone Ghostrider goal of the game. “Five minutes on and 20 minutes off is just not good enough.”
“We pride ourselves on working hard, and we kinda lost that this weekend. We got to get that back,” reinforced Keebler.