A disappointing home loss for the Fernie Ghostriders last Friday was countered by a big 6-3 road win the following night.
A slow but even first period against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on February 1 was followed by a second period dominated by the away team.
In the first three minutes of the second, Beaver Valley had secured two points. Riders’ captain Keelan Saworski was able to put one away for the Fernie, but come the third period, Beaver Valley scored another to sit at a comfortable 3-1 lead.
With 12 minutes left in the game, Saworski was able to score again for the Ghostriders but this would be all the points they would get.
The Nitehawks, who are now just a few points below the Riders in the combined standings, celebrated a big 3-2 victory. This was their third game and third win in a row against the Ghostriders.
Ghostriders Head Coach Jeff Wagner was disappointed by the effort of his team last Friday.
“I don’t think we were the best versions of ourselves tonight,” said Wagner. “I thought we were pretty inconsistent in all three zones. I thought we probably could have competed a little harder in our one-on-one battles, especially the board battles.”
He explained that losing those board battles allowed Beaver Valley players to find wide open space and scoring opportunities in front of their net.
“It’s a pretty disappointing effort I thought, defensively, but we move on I guess,” he said.
The intensity seen the previous weekend against Kimberley and Nelson was not present against Beaver Valley on Friday, and, according to Wagner, that comes down to respect given.
“For me, that’s a respect level. We respect what Kimberley does so we play up to them. We prepared for Nelson because they’re top of their division,”’ said Wagner.
“I don’t know why we wouldn’t have the same respect level for Beaver Valley, they’ve kicked the s**t out of us two times, now three times in a row… this was our last chance to beat them. We just didn’t step up when we needed to.”
Wagner says the Ghostriders’ goal is to find consistency.
“In playoffs, you’re playing four games in five nights to start a series. There can’t be an off switch. And our groups have to find that now,” he said.
The following night, the Ghostriders hit the ice with more intensity. According to Wagner, they dominated the first period and despite giving up the first goal, retaliated with two of their own before the first period ended.
The Riders also led the second period. Brendan Nemes took to the ice with a fury, scoring an unassisted goal just 14 seconds after the puck dropped. Each team scored two in the second period, followed by two goals from the Ghostriders in the third period to make it a 6-3 victory.
“We just talked about refocusing our energy on the cycle game and being first to pucks, and being hard to play against,” said Wagner. “And I thought we did a really good job of adjusting.”
“We were really fortunate to be leading 4-3 going into the third period and I thought we really showed our true colours and dominated, and were rewarded with a 6-3 win.”
Wagner credited Fernie goalkeeper Justin Faiella, who saved 40 of 43 shots against, for keeping them in the game when they were not playing up to par.
The Ghostriders take on the Columbia Valley Rockies this Saturday, February 9 in Fernie. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.