Two back to back wins for the Fernie Ghostriders in round one of the playoffs has left Columbia Valley scrambling to catch up.
The Ghostriders took a close 4-3 double overtime win on Tuesday, followed by a massive 6-0 victory the following night.
Both teams now turn their focus to a full weekend of hockey, with games three and four to be hosted in Invermere. As per the best-of-seven series rules, if Columbia Valley clinches a win in the next two games, they will be back in Fernie on Monday for game five. If Fernie wins both this weekend, they will move on to play the winner of the Golden-Kimberley match-up, which Kimberley leads 2-0.
Columbia goaltender Ben Kelsch was a force to be reckoned with Tuesday, stopping 51 of 55 shots through five periods. Fernie goaltender Riley Fonger stopped 28 of 31.
Coach Jeff Wagner explained that he thought his team was in control of the puck for the majority of the game, with the exception of some discoordination in the latter half of the second period which allowed Columbia Valley to catch up and tie the game.
Panic set in after the puck first made it into the back of the Ghostriders’ net, a theme which carried on through the following five minutes. According to Wagner, every player seemed to be on their own program.
“Definitely a situation where we can look at ourselves in the mirror and hope to improve on that area of the game,” Wagner explained.
The game finally ended at around 10:30 p.m., when Gavin Lawrie was able to secure the win for the Ghostriders with the help of Derek Green. The Ghostriders celebrated by rounding the rink for the fans, however their exhaustion was evident.
“It was a draining game for sure,” said Wagner on Tuesday. “Those are big wins. If you lose those games those are pretty deflating for a hockey club.
“We expect Columbia Valley to come out tomorrow with a lot of hunger, and they’ll be looking to steal one on the road. They always say, it’s a cliché – the series doesn’t begin until a team wins one on the road, and they almost scraped one by us tonight.”
Ghostriders Captain Keelan Saworski said Tuesday’s win was a big boost for the team.
“It’s huge, to get some momentum for game two and get some confidence,” he said.
With many new players this year, Saworski said the atmosphere leading up to game one was that of nervous excitement. With game two out of the way and the nerves settled, the captain explained that they’re ready to take on the rest of the series.
“I think a lot of guys are excited for it, I think everyone knows we have a team that can do some damage and make a long run this year. Guys know what’s at stake, and they’re raising their game. It’s good to see,” said Saworski.
The following night, the Ghostriders successfully denied the away team a road win and secured a 6-0 victory. Jordan Kromm scored three of the six goals, with points also from Keelan Saworski, Tyler Witzke and Nikolas Sombrowski.
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