The Kimberley Dynamiters imploded after the Fernie Ghostriders ended their 12-game win streak, Saturday in Fernie.
The home team took a close 2-1 victory against their league rivals in an electric game, which attracted a near-sellout crowd.
Both teams played with ferocity, resulting in several brawls and multiple game misconducts. A total of 28 penalties were recorded over three periods.
Kimberley led the scoring with a goal 10 minutes into the first period, but Fernie retaliated with Aiden Gleisner and Jordon Kromm scoring in the last eight minutes of the first. The Ghostriders successfully held their one-point lead for the remainder of the game. Fernie’s starting goalie Riley Fonger was named home star after stopping 31 of 32 shots.
“He kept us in it,” said head coach Jeff Wagner, describing how offensively dynamic the Dynamiters are.
“He shut them down when he had to,” he added.
This served as the first game back in the Fernie Memorial Arena since roof repairs were completed over the month of November. Wagner said it felt great to be back in their home barn, in front of an enthusiastic crowd and against a skilled team like Kimberley.
Kimberley’s loss against Fernie on Saturday was their first loss in 13 games, and only their fourth loss all season. They currently sit at the top of the Eddie Mountain Division and second in the KIJHL, just behind Kelowna. Wagner said the team talked about and prepared for Kimberley’s momentum in the days leading up to the game.
“We knew they were coming in on a 12-game winning streak and we really embraced the challenge of playing the game the right way, and not giving them too too much,” he said.
“They’re a really dangerous team offensively, so we wanted to limit their opportunities and we took advantage of one of our opportunities, and it got us the win tonight.”
The coach said the game grew in intensity as time went on, describing the crowd as “unbelievable”. As the game progressed, tempers flared, but Wagner said it was great to see the Riders stand up for each other when it got physical.
“I thought, we didn’t back down, we had each others’ backs, and it was really good to see.”
Following the game, the entire Ghostriders team showed their appreciation for the ‘Aussie corner’ by skating over and celebrating in front of the glass.
“I think that corner fills up probably half the fans we have,” said Wagner. “We’re obviously very fortunate to have the following we do in this league.”
Riders left winger Dylan Defosse said the game felt like the home opener.
“It was electric,” he said. “It was my first game here against Kimbo in the Memorial (Arena)… everyone was absolutely in it, it was absolutely nuts. I loved it.
“The whole game, we were on edge. We knew we wanted to beat Kimbo. They had a 12-game win streak, they’re our division rivals, hate em’, and it was just so sweet to beat them.”
Right winger Jordan Kromm agreed, adding that this was one of the best games he has been a part of as a Ghostrider. He said it felt great to get a win at home, especially against Kimberley.
In the final minute of the game, the Ghostriders were shorthanded and faced 52 seconds of onslaught from the Dynamiters. However, they were able to hold on and deny Kimberley.
“We were able to push through it,” said Kromm. “The guys stuck together, we stuck to the program and we were able to grind it out.”
At the end of the day, Kromm says the defining reason for them winning over Kimberley, is that they wanted to win more.
Saturday’s game against Kimberley served as the first for Gavin Lawrie, who was recently traded from the Oceanside Generals in Parksville, Vancouver Island. He said Saturday’s game was one of the most intense he has ever played.
“This is crazy,” he said. “The crowd is crazy. It’s a crazy environment. I like the team, the guys are great, everyone is really welcoming. We’re a great team, I like how we play. All around, a good experience so far.”
Playing right wing, Lawrie has made a name for himself as a quick, smart passer. He believes this is his best attribute.
On Friday, December 7, Fernie takes on the Spokane Braves at home, which will also be the night of the Teddy Bear Toss. When Fernie scores its first goal, toss your teddy bears onto the ice. The bears will be donated to the Salvation Army Christmas baskets, which they will distribute to those in need.
The following Friday, the Riders take on the Beaver Valley Nitehawks at home.