The Fernie Ghostriders are excited to play in front of a home crowd for the first time in almost a year.
On September 10 the Ghostriders stepped onto home ice for their first practice in Fernie Memorial Arena since last October. Despite it being just after 6 a.m., head coach Jeff Wagner said the boys were hooting and hollering as they made laps around the arena.
“There was a lot of positivity, obviously being back in our room was exciting for the guys,” said Wagner.
“They had a place to store their gear, and a place where they can call home and bond together as a group. Definitely an exciting experience for the boys coming back.”
This was also Wagner’s first time stepping onto Fernie’s home ice, and he said it was a nice treat for everyone.
Their first home game of the season will be against the Creston Valley Thundercats. Preceding this will be three regular season games away from home against Spokane, Beaver Valley and Creston.
On September 7 the Ghostriders played their first regular season game of the year against the Spokane Braves, and won 5-4 in overtime.
Coach Wagner explained that they had a slow start to the game, and at the five minute mark of the second period, they were down 3-0. A solid effort in the remainder of the second period allowed them to score three and tie the game going into the third. After a late power play goal by the braves, and a comeback goal from the Ghostriders, the game was sent into overtime. It wasn’t until the second overtime period that Riders’ Jordan Kromm buried one for his team and secured the win.
“It was nice to see the guys come together,” said Wagner.
Their second game was the day after against Beaver Valley where they lost 7-2.
“We knew coming in that it would be a hard fought game,” explained Wagner, further explaining that they didn’t execute their game plan even close to how they wanted to.
Coach Wagner said that their growing pains showed during this game, but they’re going to brush it off and get to work, preparing for this weekend coming up.
“We’re excited to be back in our home rink, and have our fans’ support,” said Wagner.
“I think there’s a buzz in the town for hockey to come back.
“Not only that, we’re excited to have a bit more normality back in our days,” he continued. “Starting the year in Calgary on the ice was a bit of a wrench in our plan. But now that we’re back in our own rink we can be a bit more regimented on a day-by-day basis.”
The new head coach says that they have built as a team on every exhibition game and their structure has come together. He says the players are starting to learn the style of play he wants them to play, which is slightly different than previous years.
This year fans might notice a bit of a change.
Coach Wagner said this year they’re hoping to be quicker in transitions, and players will be focusing more on the skill side of the game.
“In the past it’s been a bit more of a dump and chase style of game, and we want to make sure that we’re holding onto the puck as much as we can,” said Wagner.
“When we’re breaking out of the zone we want to make sure our guys are supporting each other up the ice, and moving the puck as a five man unit as opposed to a catch and release.”
The Ghostriders home opener is Saturday, September 15, at the Fernie Memorial Arena. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.