The Fernie Ghostriders made hundreds of fans proud as they took home the silver medal at Cyclone Taylor Cup on Sunday night.
The Ghostriders faced off against the Peninsula Panthers in the gold medal round of the Cyclone Cup.
Fans were kept on the edge of their seats for much of the gold medal hockey game as the two teams battled it out.
The Riders were the first to score, just seconds into the game.
Scott Morisseau scored the first goal with an assist from Ty Morton.
“I’m leery anytime you score a goal in the first minute of a hockey game,” said associate head coach of the Ghostriders, Rick Hillier. “Sometimes you get a false sense of security. If you don’t step your game up a notch or two at that point, it’s hard to keep momentum.”
The Panthers responded to the pressure from the Riders scoring their first goal seven minutes later.
“We got under a little bit of pressure and duress on Sunday night and strayed from what made us successful on Friday and Saturday,” said Hillier.
Zach Mazo, of the Panthers, scored the third goal of the game, giving the Panthers a one goal lead.
Connor McLaughlin put the pressure on the Panthers late in the first period, tying the game, making the score 2-2 going into the second period.
The Riders took the lead early in the second period with a goal by Cale Wright.
But a penalty for the Ghostriders gave the Panthers a one-man advantage, allowing them to score a power play tying the game 3-3.
Another penalty for the Ghostriders gave Kyle Peterson, of the Panthers, his second power play goal of the game, and gave the Panthers the lead.
The score was 4-3 going into the third period.
The Ghostriders fought hard against the Panthers to tie the game, but with a minute left a time out was called, and the Riders pulled goaltender Andrew Walton.
The Riders were unable to score, and the Panthers scored their fifth goal of the game, winning them the Cyclone Taylor Cup.
“We found out just how strong the Panthers were on Thursday night,” said Hillier.
The Riders played the Panthers in the round robin on Thursday. They tied 3-3.
“They had three solid lines, a lot of skill and some decent size up front. We found out the more we could keep them in their end, the better off we would be,” said Hillier.
The Riders had been practicing hard leading up to the Cyclone Taylor Cup after the end of the KIJHL play offs.
Hillier said the first 10 minutes were a bit of a wake up call for the Riders, but once they got their feet back under them, they were able to put some pressure on the Panthers.
“We out-played them for a lot of the last two periods, and battled back to tie it late in the game,” he said.
The Riders played their second round robin game, on Saturday night against the Osoyoos Coyotes.
The Coyotes had recently won the KIJHL championship against the Castlegar Rebels.
“They arguably had the best goaltender in Junior B hockey in Lazlo,” said Hillier. “But we felt that we were on par with them speed wise, and our top guys were a little bit better than their top guys.”
The Riders took the lead late in the first period with a goal from Alex Milhouse.
“We knew that Osoyoos was going to be tough to contend with,” said Hillier. “But we went out there with the attitude that we were going to be tough to contend with too.”
Cale Wright solidified the Riders’ lead in the second period with a late goal to make the score 2-0 going into the third period.
The Coyotes scored their only goal of the game in the third period on the power play.
The Riders took another point with a 2-1 win over Osoyoos.
“Thomas Abenante and Cale Wright did a great job of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and attacking when we had the opportunity,” said Hillier. “The biggest thing we’ve learned is if we can play as a team and play for each other, than we can be successful.”
The last round robin match for the Riders was Saturday night against the Richmond Sockeyes.
“Richmond is a really solid, systematic team. And are very well coached,” said Hillier.
He said that the Riders were able to watch some footage of the Sockeyes beforehand and saw that they had to focus on taking the power play away from them.
“Our penalty kill was great. We were able to kill a five on three advantage early in the game, which was an emotional boost for us,” said Hillier.
The game remained scoreless for the first and second period.
Scott Morisseau scored the only goal of the game for the Riders in the third.
The win against the Sockeyes put the Ghostriders into the gold medal round against the Peninsula Panthers on Sunday night.
“I’ve been involved in some pretty big games in 15 years of coaching hockey, and those two games on Friday and Saturday rank right up there with any of the games that I’ve been involved with in any championship. It was pretty special,” said Hillier.