By Sara MoultonFree Press Staff
Despite the continued plague of the Golden curse, the Ghostriders remain comfortably on top of their division with an untarnished home record this season.
Friday’s 3-2 loss was the third time that the Riders have fallen to the Rockets in Golden this season, with the Fernie squad under increasing pressure to bring home wins from the road. Aaron Neufeld and Cole Keebler delivered the two goals of the night for the Riders, but the game was decided when Rockets managed to sink the puck for the third and final time during a powerplay in the final minutes.
However, there was little time to dwell before the Spokane Braves arrived on Saturday, giving the Ghostriders yet another opportunity to show their strength in their home territory. Neufeld and Keebler dominated the game with two goals each, complemented with three more from Josh McCulloch, Kyle Haugo and the Derek Georgopoulos. Brandon Butler stopped 31 of 33 shots on goal by the Braves, awarding the Riders a decisive 7-2 victory.
Head coach and general manager Craig Mohr was circumspect in his assessment of the Ghostriders’ record in Golden, and explained the need for a renewed focus from the beginning of each game.
“We didn’t play a bad hockey game … we just didn’t finish the chances we had, so we never got any scoreboard pressure on them,” reflected Mohr.
“Our first periods as of late haven’t been bad but haven’t been great either, and I thought tonight [Saturday] we did a great job of being prepared right from the first puck drop,” he added.
Mohr also praised his team, particularly Neufeld and Keebler, for their collective effort in finishing plays and taking advantage of their chances after a tiring journey the previous night.
“When you do that and you’re scoring on the rush, it puts a lot of pressure on other teams and I think we got Spokane a little bit off their game,” Mohr said.
He continued, “It was a nice bounce back after a long trip. They came out and won 7-2 after playing a good solid 60 minutes tonight.”
Assistant captain Neufeld agreed with Mohr, pointing out that the road trip to Golden has proven difficult in previous seasons as well, but that the team have been able to shake it off to redeem themselves at home.
“We don’t like going to Golden … last night, the game just wasn’t going our way and tonight we wanted to put that behind us and work hard,” said Neufeld.
“I’m just happy to put it in the net; I was in the right place at the right time and I got a nice pass from my linemates,” he added, regarding his two goals.
Elkford local Kyle Haugo scored his first goal for the Fernie Ghostriders on Saturday, November 15. – Image Credit: Sara Moulton
Finally, the goal for defenceman Haugo was his first in his inaugural junior hockey season. The 16-year-old from Elkford is one of the few players who is actually from the Elk Valley, and he has been keen to take the next step to play with the Fernie squad.
“I watched the Ghostriders as I grew up so it’s pretty exciting playing for them, and having all my friends around is pretty exciting too,” Haugo explained.
He continued, “It felt great to get the goal, I didn’t expect it to go in … I just shot and hoped for the best.”
See more Riders hockey this Saturday night when the Kimberley Dynamiters return for another showdown in Fernie. As always, the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. You don’t want to miss this one!