By Sara Moulton
The Fernie Ghostriders had a busy and successful weekend in their third week of the regular season, defeating the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Friday 27 September before returning to Fernie and conquering Chase on home ice the following night.
While Saturday’s clash started out with Chase slipping the puck into the net in the first minute of the game, the Riders fought back with a power play goal by rookie Josh Odelein soon afterwards. After some fumbling around by both teams, Fernie’s Aaron Neufeld delivered another goal to the home team with 1:08 left in the first period.
The second period proved entertaining for the crowd after Chase’s McKenzie Guardiero slammed Ghostrider Travis Thomsen hard into the wall and subsequently received a 10-minute penalty for misconduct. As both teams became much more feisty, Ghostrider captain Ben Primeau and teammate Cole Weber scored goals between penalties on both sides, helping to secure the Riders’ lead for the remainder of the game.
The tension from the second period bubbled over in the first few minutes of the third, as Austin Hirano and former teammate Guardiero literally took off their gloves and fought it out in front of the crowd. Primeau and Kale Johnson were involved in their own scuffle against Chase just a few minutes later, earning more penalties for the team but delighting their fans. Between the bouts of commotion, Cole Keebler secured the team’s final goal for the night, and despite a hard fight and two more goals for Chase, it was the Ghostriders who were ultimately victorious, five goals to four.
Special mention should be made to goalie Austin Wells, who held back a whopping 34 of 36 attempts by Creston and 30 of 34 the following night against Chase.
Following the game, Head Coach Dale Hladun was elated with the team’s back-to-back success.
“There’s a lot of pressure on [the players]… we’re in Fernie, they’re nervous, and there’s an expectation for them to win… they’re a nice group of guys and they deserved these wins”.
Hladun was especially proud of the effort and enthusiasm shown by the players, who came home from Creston very late on Friday night, then spent the hours before their home game barbequing in the rain to raise money for charity.
“They were walking around the streets, waving signs, flipping burgers… the community should be proud of these guys, and I think when they get to know the players a little more, they’re going to adore them”.
Indeed, the activities of the team outside of the arena are an enjoyable extra responsibility of playing for the Ghostriders, as Primeau and fellow 20-year-old Kurtis Bond explained. Even if it means not having much sleep, they are glad to give back to the community.
“It’s not difficult, it’s all good stuff,” said Bond. “If people see us out there, supporting them, then hopefully we’ll have more fans supporting us in here.”
Bond is happy to be settling in to his new team, after moving from Princeton along with Coach Hladun.
“It’s awesome being down here, everyone supports the team… it was a little stressful for everyone when we lost two last week, so it’s a bit of a relief to come back and start chasing after [division leaders] Kimberley!”
Primeau is also enjoying his new role as captain of the team, after two previous seasons with the club.
“The team has a lot of good guys and, so far, it’s been great”, he said.
As music and excited chatter pumped through the arena after their win, Bond and Primeau were keen to celebrate with their teammates rather than go out to the bars like many young men of their age.
“Definitely, after two in a row, and after we started out not so great, it’s always good to get a win… obviously not everyone on the team is of age, so we try to do things that everyone can join in”, said Primeau.
The Fernie Ghostriders will play Golden at the Fernie Memorial Arena at 7.30 pm on Friday 4 October.