The Ghostriders lost the Division Semi-Final to the Kimberley Dynamiters, but didn’t go down without a fight.
During the first period, the Dynamiters caught an early goal, giving the guests a one-point lead. Into the second, the Riders fell prey to a power play onslaught, and the Dynamiters scored another with 13 minutes left in the second.
Going into the third period, the tides shifted, and just over half way through the period, when things were looking grim, Tayler Sincennes assisted Riley Siebel with a beautiful goal to bring the score to 2-1 Dynamiters. Spirits lifted, the Ghostriders continued to pressure the opposition, and with 2:09 left in the game, Ryan Kennedy broke away from the Dynamiters defensive line, powering down the ice to pocket a goal and tie the game.
The air was filled with the deafening screams of Ghostrider fans as the game was sent into overtime.
“They played their hearts out,” said Ghostriders’ head coach, Craig Mohr. “I think it would’ve been pretty easy to roll over. That’s a good character group in there.”
“It was a bit of a wild, crazy, series but they never quit the whole time. And I’m so proud of them for that.”
Ten minutes went by, and neither team scored, despite a few chances and close calls. Despite a few jabs and nudges and dramatic falls, the rest of the game was relatively clean. In fact this spoke to the entire night, as each team came to win, and not to fight.
Going into the second overtime period, the Dynamiters scored three minutes in, after they pressured the net, recovered a loose puck on the blue line, took a couple steps forward and shot it past a Riders defenseman and up past Youngson’s shoulder.
Youngson played the entire game, saving 40 of 43 shots against.
As if the lights had been turned off, the game was over. After 73 minutes of play, each team was exhausted after a long-fought battle.
Despite rivalries, each team shook hands and acknowledged each other’s skill, the Riders wishing Kimberley luck in their next playoff game. For the Ghostriders, this signified the end of their season, and they raised their sticks in one final salute to a standing ovation of 980.
“It comes to an end,” said Mohr. “We told our guys, you’ve got to hold your heads up, because you played a hell of a hockey game, and a great series.”
“I just thought both teams played really well, I thought that was just an awesome hockey game,” he added.
“At the end of the day, they can look in the mirror and be proud of themselves. I know I am. And I’m sure the town is, after tonight. Such a gutsy effort.”
For four 20-year-old Ghostriders, this was their last game with the franchise, and for some, their last official game of hockey.
Alex Cheveldave, Justin Peers, Tayler Sincennes, and Devin Nemes will not be returning to the ice as Ghostriders.
Mohr credited the group of guys for the example they set not only for the other Ghostriders in the locker room and on the ice, but also out in the community.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better leadership group,” said Mohr. “You look at a group of young men who have zero off-ice issues, in junior hockey, that’s such a credit to the leadership group there.”
Riders captain Alex Cheveldave served with the team for two years.
“I’m proud of every single guy on the team tonight,” said the Captain. “Every single guy went out and did what they needed to do. And if someone ahead of them made a mistake, they were up the next shift, making up for that mistake. That’s what kind of guys we have on this team this year.”
“I’m proud to be a Ghostrider this year,” he added.
Asked about his role as captain, Cheveldave admitted that sometimes guys were frustrated with him based on decisions. However, when it comes down to it, the ambition to win is present in every player and this unites them.
“I know every single guy is going to be fighting on the line for me every single night. Regardless of the outcome of games, it comes from the inside.”
Justin Peers served with the Riders for three years, and he thinks their performance in their last game of the season was “unbelievable”.
“We had everyone’s back tonight. I can’t say much more than the effort we put out. I’d go to war with any of these guys,” he said.
Tayler Sincennes served with the Riders for three years.
“It’s just an incredible group of guys. We never quit. Down two in the third, down in the series, nobody would’ve blamed us if we had packed it in but everybody just kept pushing and gave us a chance to go to OT. We didn’t get it done but I’d go to war with any of those guys any day of the week again,” said Sincennes.
Asked how Kimberley played, Sincennes said, “You don’t want to say it, but they deserved to beat us. I’ll give them props for that, and I’ll give them a congratulations and good luck the rest of the way for them.”
Devin Nemes was taken on board this season, right around the December 1 deadline.
“I thought our team put everything on the line tonight,” said the 20-year-old. “(The team is) Just a bunch of heart and soul guys, that put everything on the line. It just wasn’t in the cards for us this year.”
Coach Mohr spoke to next year, as the Ghostriders will be losing some key leaders. Mohr himself, originally from Calgary, is also on contract with the Junior B team, and hopes to return next season.
“The mantel just gets passed,” said Mohr. “I’ve talked to the board and I’ve told them I would like to be back and re-sign. I love it here, I love this town, and I love the people in it. I love this hockey team. I love coming to the rink every day and working with these young men. I love being out in the community, working with them.
“My heart and soul are with the Ghostriders,” added Coach Mohr, who has been with the Riders for the past three seasons.
The Fernie Ghostriders did not beat last seasons total point score of 59, rather making it to a total of 55. However, last season, the Riders won 29 games, and lost 31. This season, they won 30, and lost 25.
Alex Cheveldave received the most penalties in minutes, totalling 161. This sets a new record for the last five seasons, beaten only by Brendon Mangone and Marty Wicks in the season of 2011/12. His points for the season increased from last years total of 25, to this year’s total of 38.
Mitch Titus took top scoring spot with a total of 55 for the 2016/17 season, almost doubling last years total of 31. Justin Peers came in close behind with a total of 51 points.