A sold out crowd at the Fernie Memorial Arena on Friday witnessed a tremendous effort by both Fernie and Kimberley to leave the ice with a win.
Both teams battled hard into two overtime periods where the game ended deadlocked at two. This marks another tight match against the Eddie Mountain Division leaders, who currently sit 18 points ahead of the Ghostriders. Fernie currently sits three points behind Columbia Valley, a team that head coach Jeff Wagner hopes to overtake before playoffs begin.
“I thought we put a really good effort forward,” said Wagner after Friday’s match.
“That’s a really good team over there in Kimberley, I thought we matched them pretty much stride for stride all night. And I guess the scoreboard shows that.”
After such an effort Wagner said a tie feels both good and bad.
“To come away with points against Kimberley in any game is an achievement in itself,” he said. “It seems like there’s not a lot of teams in the league that are doing that this year.”
As of Friday Kimberley’s record showed 28 wins, four losses and one tie. Fernie dished out one of those losses and their only tie. Wagner says they take some pride in this fact.
Every corner of the arena was packed with fans, and staff were forced to turn some away once the seats were filled. Wagner says the atmosphere in the building was unbelievable.
“That’s probably as loud and as crazy as we’ve seen it,” he said. “I only heard stories about the Christmas classic here in Fernie and it didn’t disappoint, that’s for sure.
“Our goalie’s getting his name chanted, you see them doing the wave and you try not focus on the crowd too much when you’re in a game but it’s pretty special to have this kind of turnout in our league, for sure.”
Friday’s game started off with a fiery first period, but neither team was able to secure a point. Fernie’s Brendan Nemes led the scoring in the second period, followed two minutes later by a Kimberley marker.
With 6:46 left in the period, Kyle Ford scored a goal which stuck in the minds of many that night. Breaking away down the ice, Ford came up against Kimberley defenseman Lucas Chilton. Faking to the right, Ford pulled the puck back to the left, leaning only on his left skate, and breezed past the 6’4 red jersey.
Once past Chilton, Ford sunk the puck past Dynamiters goalie Adam Anderson, sending the arena into a frenzy.
Going into the third period with a one-point lead, Wagner said they were in control. When a Ghostrider went down with an injury in their corner, the Dynamiters took advantage and broke out two on one.
Coach Wagner credited both goalies for their efforts that night. Shots for Fernie and Kimberley combined to tally 75.
Despite the Ghostriders suffering two player injuries as a result of hits from behind, the hockey game was a relatively clean one. This was untypical of a Fernie vs. Kimberley game, two teams which have fueled a league rivalry for decades.
Coach Wagner said this was nice to see.
“When this rivalry gets heated, sometimes emotions get the better of you and we’ve seen that this year,” he said.
“It was nice to see two teams just come out and play hockey hard. And I think even though the fans love the rough and tough stuff, I think they can appreciate the skill that was put on display tonight.”
The following night Fernie went on to lose in Kimberley 5-3.
This Friday, the Ghostriders are home for two games in a row, the first against Creston Valley on Friday and the second against Castlegar on Saturday.