Four back-to-back wins for the Fernie Ghostriders has secured them a spot in round two of the KIJHL 2019 Playoffs.
After two wins at home came a 4-0 win on Friday away in Columbia Valley, followed by a close 3-2 overtime win Saturday night.
With the Columbia Valley Rockies now eliminated, round two will begin with Fernie facing division rivals, the Kimberley Dynamiters. The Dynamiters also managed a clean sweep of round one against the Golden Rockets.
“We’re excited about it, I don’t think any of us expected a sweep but I thought the group played really well in the four games we’ve had. And we were rewarded,” said Ghostriders head coach Jeff Wagner.
Looking at the playoffs so far, Kimberley, Fernie, Beaver Valley, Kelowna and Revelstoke were the only teams that managed to eliminate their round one opponents without a single loss.
Fernie and Kimberley will face off for game one of round two this Thursday and Friday in Kimberley. The Riders will be back in Fernie for two home games on Sunday and Monday. If needed they will play Wednesday in Kimberley, Thursday in Fernie and Saturday in Kimberley.
“We feel like we’ve played some of our best hockey against the Dynamiters this year,” said Wagner.
“All the games have been close. They haven’t really gone in our favour the majority of the time, but one or two-goal games against that team… I think we’ve fared better than anyone else in the league against them.
“Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get the wins.”
Wagner said the lead up to game one against the Dynamiters will be spent practicing, reviewing video of past games and strategizing.
On Friday night, Columbia Valley came out like a team that desperately needed a win. In the first few minutes of the game the Rockies were denied several goals after they bounced off the post. After the first half of the period, the Riders found their legs and managed to hold off the Rockies for the rest of the game. Brendan Nemes, Gavin Lawrie, Nikolas Sombrowski and Kyle Ford each managed to put up a goal each that night.
“I thought we were all over them for the most part and the score obviously showed how we played,” said Wagner.
“Saturday night, it was kind of the same thing but instead of hitting posts, they scored a couple of goals.”
Within the first eight minutes of Saturday’s game, the Rockies managed to put away two goals against Fernie. Forty seconds after their second goal, Sawan Gill put one away for Fernie with the help of Braeden Dey and Tyler Witzke.
The second period was filled with panic and frustration, and it showed on the Ghostriders’ bench.
“We started kind of giving it to each other on the bench, we were getting frustrated with each other as teammates. There was a lot of negative energy on our bench in the second period,” Wagner explained.
Neither team scored during the second period, which gave the Ghostriders a chance to tie up the game in the third period. During the intermission, the team managed to resolve their issues and enter onto the ice as a team going into the third. Not long after the period started, Dey scored with the help of Gill.
“We scored five minutes into that third period and the vibe that was on the bench, it seemed like we had figured it out and it was going to go in our favor, and fortunately for us it did,” said Wagner.
The game was sent into overtime but thanks to a rebound goal by Simon Bergsagel, assisted by Witzke and Lawrie, the Ghostriders took the victory with just minutes left in the first overtime.