By Matt Laurin
The Fernie Ghostriders opened the New Year with a bang, beating the Golden Rockets in back to back games over the weekend.
The two wins allowed the Riders (27 – 9 – 0 – 4) to reclaim the top spot in the Eddie Mountain division, despite losing twice to the Kimberley Dynamiters (27 – 8 – 1 – 1) over the holidays. The Nitros have three games in hand.
After falling behind early to the Rockets on Friday evening, the Riders exploded for three third period goals to edge Golden 5 – 4 in front of 700 plus rowdy fans.
The Rockets briefly silenced the home crowd, scoring three times in less than two minutes, before Marty Wicks stopped the bleeding with a signature bomb from the point. Carson Brown scored a few minutes later to get the Riders within one.
Golden scored the only goal in a tight checking second period, to restore a two goal lead, before the Ghostriders took over in the third.
Fernie got goals from Alex Milhouse and Brendon Magnone to tie the game, before Brendan Burge scored the game winner with just over three minutes remaining.
Despite giving up the early lead, head coach Will Verner was impressed with his team’s compete level.
“I was disappointed obviously in the four or five minutes we played against Golden, but looking at it from a positive way, I really liked how we didn’t wait for the second period to get back into the game.”
“The resilience and character we showed in that game, even being down heading into the third, just having the belief and confidence to finish the comeback, that was great.”
The Riders carried the momentum into Golden on Saturday, earning a lopsided 7 – 1 win against a fatigued Rockets team playing their fourth game in as many nights.
Verner acknowledged the tough schedule, but knows that it’s just a reality of junior hockey.
“Saturday night, I thought we played a solid team game from the drop of the puck. We got ahead quickly and never let up. They were playing their fourth game in five nights, which is tough for them in that situation, but I think our momentum and confidence were the reasons we had success.”
“It’s always tough to play that many games in as many nights. The team that’s going to win the provincial championship is going to have to play four games in four nights. To be able to go through it before you get there, it should help in the long run.”
The Ghostriders host the Revelstoke Grizzlies on Friday night at Fernie Memorial Arena. The Grizzlies edged the Riders 3 – 2 in the only other meeting between the two teams this season. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.