The Fernie Memorial Arena was at capacity with 1140 people in the crowd for round two of the Fernie Ghostriders/ Kimberley Dynamiters double header. Despite an average scoring match, the game was anything but dull. It was a nail-biter that ended in an overtime win for the Ghostriders, with a final score of 3-2. Filled with fights, big plays and beautiful goals, the teams put on a spectacle for Fernie’s rowdiest and largest crowd of the season.
The Ghostriders lost the first game of the classic holiday match up on Dec. 28 in Kimberley and came into Tuesday’s game hoping to even the score. The Dynamiters looked to make it a 2-0 sweep for the back-to-back games.
“Well, it doesn’t get much more exciting than that. Classic Kimberley/Fernie – both teams going hard at it, some crazy goals,” said Craig Mohr, Head Coach and General Manager of the Ghostriders. “You look at our line up and you have three of our top four scorers injured. We’ve got Wilson playing with his teeth knocked out. He got his teeth knocked out last night. We get down, we hang in there, and we battle.”
After the first period, the Dynamiters outscored and outshot the Ghostriders one to nothing and nine to four, respectively. Nitro Brendon Benson beat Fernie’s goaltender Jeff Orser’s top corner glove side with a wrist shot from the point. The period had emotions rising and was brimming with big open ice hits and end-to-end action.
The second had almost as many players serving penalties in the box as there was on the ice. While it was rare to see five-on-five action, the extra space gave the teams more room for bigger plays and huge cross-ice passes. The players were also tense, with multiple fights between the rivals resulting in many players leaving the ice. Ghostriders Coleton Dawson and Ryan Teslak went into the dressing room, along with Nitro winger, George Bertoia. By the end of the second period, the Ghostrider’s line up was down to four defensemen and nine forwards.
The Dynamiters had the Ghostriders on their heels after a seven-minute penalty was awards to Teslak for roughing. The Ghostriders had a big penalty kill keeping pucks out of the net by blocking shots and keeping the Dnyamiters out of the way of Orser.
“I think the turning point was that they get a seven-minute power play and we kill it off in the second, with Orser making some saves, guys diving, blocking shots, and just laying it on the line,” said Mohr.
After over a period of staring at the one nothing scoreboard, the successful extended penalty kill by the Ghostriders gave the team some extra energy. Ghostrider defenseman Dan Burgess scored early in the third period to tie the game at 1-1. He attributed to the goal and win to the work the team put in throughout the game.
“Hard work for 60 minutes, we kept focus for 60 minutes,” said Burgess.
Shortly after Burgess’s rallying goal, the Ghostriders put another point on the board with a big goal by right winger Justin Peers, who scored with a cannon of a slap shot from high in the offensive zone.
What looked like a clean, regulation time win for the Ghostriders was dashed by the Dynamiter Jordan Busch, who used the players scrambling at the front of the net to unleash a one timer from high in the hash marks and send a bullet of a shot past Orser with less than one second left in regulation time.
“It was a goal. I was looking right at the clock and it was in before the buzzer. That’s why I wasn’t arguing. It was in,” said Mohr.
Excitement ran through the crowd faster than the wave, the over time had the air sparking with anticipation. The extra time seemed to be going in the Dynamiters favour, with the Kimberley squad quickly bringing the puck into the Fernie zone. A miscalculated pass had the Ghostriders on a quick breakout from their defensive zone. The puck was chipped to Ghostrider, Nolan Lagace who beat the Dynamiters defenders at their blue line and had his second breakaway chance of the night. He faked a shot and deeked the Dynamiter goaltender, to bury the puck with a stretched out backhand shot.
“I wasn’t missing on my old midget goalie,” said Lagace, talking about Nitro goalie, Mitch Traichevich.
“It couldn’t have been more fitting for Legace to score just a beautiful goal in overtime – he gets around the D-man, makes a great move and puts it in. How much fun was that?” said Mohr. “Two good hockey teams going at it. We lose 3-2 the night before, and in that game we lose [Alex] Cheveldave and we lose [Zach] Befus. When you’re down like that, you just try to keep it simple, keep it low scoring and give yourselves a chance – and that is what they did.”