Kort Kisinger and Jock Michael of the Fernie Ghostriders line up for a face off at a home game against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Nov. 26, 2021. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)

Kort Kisinger and Jock Michael of the Fernie Ghostriders line up for a face off at a home game against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Nov. 26, 2021. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)

Ghostriders head for three-game stretch to end 2021, spectator capacity limited again

Victories in the next two games against Kimberley could bump them up in the division rankings

KIJHL games are back down to 50 per cent spectator capacity due to the recent COVID-19 surge, and the Fernie Ghostriders are headed to Kimberley Tuesday (Dec. 28) for the first of three games to finish off 2021.

Ghostriders head coach, Ty Valin, said not much is changing in the wake of the most recent pandemic surge, as they played at 50 per cent capacity for most of the year. The restrictions were briefly lifted by Interior Health on Nov. 30, and for the first few weeks of December, games were allowed to be at full capacity again.

“Nothing’s really changing other than, if people plan on coming, definitely come early,” Valin said.

READ MORE: ‘Nice to start getting back to normal’: Fernie arena back to full spectator capacity

Fernie is set to face the Kimberley Dynamiters two days in a row. The last game they played on Dec. 18 was also against the Dynamiters, and saw a Fernie victory 2-1.

The first upcoming game is on Tuesday on Kimberley ice, and the second is on Wednesday (Dec. 29) at the Fernie Memorial Arena.

The Ghostriders will also be facing the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Creston ice on New Year’s Eve, Friday, Dec. 31.

“It’s a big week for us coming out of the Christmas break.”

Fernie is neck-to-neck right now with Kimberley in the Eddie Mountain Division. The Ghostriders are in third place with 31 points, and the Dynamiters are in second place with 32 points.

“We want to leapfrog Kimberley,” Valin said.

As the league heads towards playoffs at the end of February, teams are “jockeying for positions” in the standings for the playoffs.

“You want that home ice advantage if you can get it for the post-season.”

Despite being one point behind in the division ranking, the Ghostriders still have an advantage over the Dynamiters looking forward to the playoffs.

They play the Dynamiters a total of eight times in the regular season, and, as of Tuesday (before the evening game), have four wins out of five games played. They want to keep the wins rolling, Valin said.

“You want to win a majority of those games so that way, if it does come down to a tie, then you got the advantage going in the playoffs.”

The Ghostriders also have their sights set on the top team in the division, the Columbia Valley Rockies, who currently sit at 37 points. They had a nail-biter game against the Rockies on Dec. 16, which ended in an overtime win for the Rockies, 5-6.

Though Fernie is six points behind in the official division rankings, they have games in-hand on the Rockies, which impacts winning percentages, Valin said.

“We’re right there with Columbia Valley right now. But obviously (the upcoming games) are very important games to keep pace with them,” Valin said, adding that they have “had some really good games with them this year.”

He said that the Ghostriders are a young team and they’re learning to win and play the full 60 minutes. Losing to the Rockies the way they did was “a good learning experience” for the team.

“We’re such a young team, they’re learning how to win, learning how to close games out.”

“They’re getting better at it every game we play.”

READ MORE: Two wins and a Teddy Bear Toss for the Ghostriders over the weekend


@fishynewswatch
josh.fischlin@thefreepress.ca

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