By Ezra Black
Late out of the gate and going down swinging was how the Fernie Ghostriders played in a losing effort against the best team in the league on Dec. 17.
It was all Creston Valley Thunder Cats in the first period. They jumped ahead three to nil with goals from Brodie Smith, Justen James and Thomas Cankovic, but when the Fernie Ghostriders pressed the giv’r button early in the second the gears seemed to snap into place and the Riders began hitting everything, a lot, and scoring too.
The scoring started with Mitch Titus late in the first period with an incredible pass from Keagan Kingwell.
“I looked up and I saw both their defencemen were on the wings and the middle was wide open,” said Titus. “It was a clear cut breakaway. I was going to shoot but I ended up just faking it and going backhand top shelf.”
The 5’7” right winger from Montrose B.C. credited his speed with allowing him to get a step on the defence.
“A lot of people can beat me from one end of the rink to the other but if you’re going a short distance, I’m pretty good at that,” said Titus.
The Riders scored two in the second with unassisted goals from Brendan Nemes and Keelan Saworski but the Thunder Cats answered back with two of their own.
Creston scored early in the third and then Ghostriders’ captain Alex Cheveldave cut the lead to two but it was too little too late.
“We played hard,” said Titus. “But I think we could have come out a lot harder in the first ten or even the first twenty. If we would have played like we did at the start of the second, it would have been a totally different hockey game.”
Titus said the game started to turn for them when the Riders upped their physical play.
“As soon as we started mucking down in the corners a little bit and started forechecking and hitting them they started to collapse and we were able to capitalize and get a couple goals,” he said.
Head coach Craig Mohr agreed with his player’s assessment.
“When you play a good team you can’t allow them to get three in the first ten minutes,” said Mohr. “I loved our effort. I loved that we didn’t quit. I really thought we showed that team. We played a real big physical game and that’s what we have to do.”
Mohr credited Devin Nemes for his heavy-hitting style of play.
“He is a presence on the ice,” said Mohr. “He is big, he is strong, he is physical and he plays that way. He is impossible to move in front of the net.”
The Riders will enjoy a well-deserved Christmas break but will be back at practice on Dec. 27 to prepare for two games against Kimberley and then another game against Creston Valley.
“Our goal is to come back and get right back to nipping at their heels. I like where the pieces are falling right now, we just have to keep working on it,” said Mohr. “Hopefully everyone has an awesome Christmas. Let the boys go and enjoy family. That’s what this time is all about.”
On the injury front Matt Rogers is out for the season after suffering a broken kneecap in a game against the Castlegar Rebels on Dec. 10..
The rookie left winger from Delta, B.C. had been improving his play before the injury, said Mohr.
“I really thought he was getting better every month,” said Mohr. “Whenever you lose someone to injury for the season it’s so tough but he’ll be around next year. I loved his improvement.”
Mohr said Rogers was a well-liked guy in the dressing room.
“Always smiling,” he said. “Hard to get a few words out of him he’s pretty quiet but we were working on him.”
B.C. Hockey will allow the Ghostriders to replace Rogers but Mohr said
“we would rather have Matty here.”
Next home game for the Ghostriders is Dec. 29 when they face off against their rivals the Kimberley Dynamiters.