23 total penalties were handed out to both teams in the last 19 seconds of last Thursday’s game against the Kimberley Dynamiters.

23 total penalties were handed out to both teams in the last 19 seconds of last Thursday’s game against the Kimberley Dynamiters.

A rough night for the Riders and their rivals

The Fernie Ghostriders have hit a proverbial wall, and will need to work hard to get back on their feet.

By Phil McLachlan

The Fernie Ghostriders have hit a proverbial wall, and will need to work hard to get back on their feet.

In addition to losing to Kimberley on Dec. 29 with multiple game suspensions and injuries, they have also lost their goalie, Brandon Butler, who has obtained a season ending injury in his last playable Junior B year.

“You never like losing, especially at home,” said Ghostriders’ Coach, Craig Mohr.

After last Thursday’s game, the current Riders’ roster sits at four injuries, two of which are out for the rest of the season. In addition, four players have three-game suspensions, as well as Kyle Haugo who has six.

Before the puck dropped on Thursday, 1140 spectators struggled to fit into the Fernie Memorial Arena, eager for the best spot to see. Reaching maximum capacity, even die-hard fans were turned away.

From the very first whistle, both teams were hungry for the puck. For 20 minutes, every player gave 100 per cent, and the first period ended at 0-0.

Going into the second, things changed. The Ghostriders started to let up the pressure, allowing the Dynamiters to sneak one in with five minutes left in the second period.

The third period became the Riders’ demise. 4:54 into the last period, the Dynamiters took a deflection off the Riders’ goalie, making it 2-0. The game began to grow rough at this point, and both teams didn’t manage to get another until Kimberley took advantage of a power play and scored with 5:04 seconds left in the third.

“We didn’t capitalize on our power-play opportunities,” said Coach Mohr. “They penalty-killed well and we didn’t.”

When all hope was lost and fans started to leave, Nolan Lagace came through with a beautiful, unassisted goal with 4:06 left in the game. This would be the last point scored in the game, but not nearly the end of the show.

The next four minutes were the longest in history. By the end of the game, 42 penalties were handed out to both teams. In the third period alone, 31 penalties were awarded; Fernie received 17 and Kimberley, 14.

23 of these 42 penalties were given with 19 seconds left in the last period, after everyone on the ice dropped gloves and proceeded to hug each other like only hockey players can.

This brawl came as a reaction to Mitch Titus being hit in the middle of the ice, with the point of contact being the knee. It is unclear whether or not Titus was in possession of the puck when he was hit with his knee out, causing him to spin uncontrollably multiple times before falling to the ice and not getting up. Titus was carried off the ice and did not return. No penalty was given to Kimberley’s #3, Lucas Purdy who made the hit.

“When our leading goal-scorer gets kneed and taken out, you can’t just walk away from that,” said Coach Mohr. “Our players responded, and said nope, we don’t care what it is, we’ll take our punishment but you’re not going to knee our best player, our lead scorer.”

“Hey, it’s Kimberley-Fernie, stuff happens,” he added.

The final score for the game was 3-1 Dynamiters.

Brandon Butler battled through the last two games for the sake of the Ghostriders, but has officially stopped playing for the remainder of the season. With torn cartilage in his knee, Butler continued to play against the Dynamiters with but one millimetre of cartilage left in his knee. He was awarded the Home Star title for his commendable display of athletics in last Thursday’s game.

“I just want to commend Butsy on his two and a half, almost three years of full, total commitment to the Ghostriders,” said Coach Mohr. “It’s always sad when a 20-year-olds career ends on an injury, especially one like Butsy… To have it end that way on such a classy, hard-working, great young man, it’s hard.

“From me, the organization, and all our players, a big thank you and a big hug to Butsy; He’s a heart-and-soul guy.”

Backup-goalie, Brandon Youngson will be taking the position of lead goaltender, but the Riders will be in desperate search for another to take Butler’s place.

The Ghostriders play at home on Saturday against the Castlegar Rebels. The puck will drop at 7:30 p.m.