Will Lightfoot

Will Lightfoot

KIJHL: Blast off in Fernie

The KIJHL playoffs begin tonight at the Fernie Memorial Arena.

Sara MoultonFree Press Staff

The Fernie Ghostriders and Golden Rockets begin their first round of playoffs tonight at the Fernie Memorial Arena, kicking off a best-of-seven series to decide who will advance from the KIJHL’s Eddie Mountain division.

The Riders finished at the top of their divisional and conference standings after the regular season, earning a total of 78 points from 52 games and securing the home ice advantage for the first two rounds of playoffs, should they advance. The Rockets finished fourth in the division with 51 points during the same timeframe, registering 23 wins, 24 losses and five overtime losses.

While the statistics support the Fernie squad, the series is unlikely to be a walk in the park for either side. The Ghostriders had some trouble on the road early in the season and dropped three tilts against their divisional rivals, all before mid-November and all to the Rockets. The curse was finally broken on Jan. 24 when the Riders won in Golden, leaving the regular season record between the two teams at 5-3 in favour of Fernie.

The Ghostriders will begin the playoff run without former league-leading forward Doan Smith, who has been in the stands since sustaining a lower body injury at the end of January. Cole Keebler and Spencer Bender are listed back in the lineup after sitting out a few weeks recently, while defenseman Travis Thomsen’s status (lower body) is still uncertain at the time of writing.

The playoff schedule features four games in Fernie and three in Golden:

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m. Golden Rockets at Fernie GhostridersFriday, Feb. 20, 8:00 p.m.              Fernie Ghostriders at Golden RocketsSunday, Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m.            Golden Rockets at Fernie GhostridersMonday, Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m.           Fernie Ghostriders at Golden RocketsWednesday, Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m.    Golden Rockets at Fernie Ghostriders (if necessary)Friday, Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m.              Fernie Ghostriders at Golden Rockets (if necessary)Saturday, Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m.         Golden Rockets at Fernie Ghostriders (if necessary)

Come down and cheer on your Fernie Ghostriders as they work towards the championship, and see tomorrow’s Free Press for a special playoffs feature with team photos and player statistics.