The Ghostriders won their first game of the semi-final series against the Kimberley Dynamiters on Feb. 27, giving the Head Coach and General Manager Craig Mohr something to smile about.
“They earned it, game two and three we played very good hockey games. We just didn’t get a lot of luck, they have been working so hard, just grinding and grinding, we are alive,” he said.
Mohr attributes the team’s win to the teams physical presence, positive attitude and special performances.
“We are taking a toll on them. [Jordan] Busch is out, [Keanan] Haase is out, and we are battering them around. I do not know if [Jason] Richter is hurt or something is going on, but he is such a good hockey player, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is trying to play through a major injury,” said Mohr, who went on to talk about how the team never lost hope in the series.
“We have a series, we are playing well, and the guys got a good feeling. The mood has been good. Even after the double overtime loss, the team didn’t have their heads down, there were no guys smashing sticks. They were saying ‘we are playing with them now’ we are starting to get some mojo going,” he said.
Many of the goals so far in the series, both for and against the Ghostriders, have been at the hands of special teams like the penalty kill
and power play, who got the game-winning goal in Saturday’s game.
“That has been the difference in the overtime game [on Wednesday] and last night [Friday]. The Dynamiters got a little puck luck, they got a goal from a deflection off a leg and an arm. Today our penalty killers did an outstanding job,” said Mohr. “I had a good feeling about tonight, we played well, and the special teams cleaned up. Now we just have to do it three more times.”
Mohr hopes the team will carry its momentum into the
upcoming games, and keep playing physical and capitalize on special teams.
“Our key is to play physical; we have to keep pounding. If we get in a track meet with them we are done, we need to just keep hitting them and wear them out,” he said. “The plan doesn’t deviate, keep the pressure going.”
The team certainly understands the plan.
“We need to keep chipping pucks in, getting it deep and hitting their bodies, making our defensemen stand up on the wall and having guys cover positions all around the ice,” said Ghostriders right winger, Mack Differenz.
“I think the power play and penalty kill helped us a lot. The penalty kill especially, last game was not as great, but today we really picked it up,” said Ghostrider affiliate, Derek Green.
“Green the machine, he is a thumper. He hits and hits hard. He is old school defense, hammers and hits, he is steady,” said Mohr about the 16-year-old. Mohr went on to talk about how much the other affliate players help the team.
“With Jeff Orser down we are very happy to have Brandon Youngsen in as back up goaltender. He proved himself earlier this year,” said Mohr.
Youngson played four games as an affiliate when both Brandon Butler and Jeff Orser were injured in early October.
The Ghostriders need to keep their momentum and win the next three games of their playoff series to advance. The next game is in Kimberley on Feb. 29, and if the Ghostriders win then the next game will be at home in the Fernie Memorial Arena on Mar. 2.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to win in the Memorial [Arena]. We we’re down three nothing [in the series], and coach told us teams come back form three to nothing all the time. We are definitely looking to do that,” said Differenz.
“Unreal, it felt great to beat a team that was so good. Even though they have players down it still felt great. They may be one of the best teams but that does not mean they are unbeatable,” said Green. “It was really great, I felt goose-bumps as I was going around the arena after the win. It made me smile and I had a great time.”