By Sara MoultonFree Press Staff
Fernie hockey fans were treated to a nail-biter last Saturday night, when the Ghostriders and the Kimberley Dynamiters both conceded to a tie after 70 minutes of play.
Having endured a long but very successful road trip to Beaver Valley the night before, the Riders were set to defend their unbeaten home record against their division rivals. However, the effects of fatigue, illness and some questionable actions on behalf of the Kimberley squad made the task a heavy one for the home team.
“We didn’t get the win; Kimberley got that last goal to tie, but I have no issues with our effort,” said head coach and general manager, Craig Mohr, after the game.
He continued, “After getting home at 4:30 a.m. and being down to nine forwards for half the game, as a coach, you can’t be upset. I thought they played like they really cared.”
The night began in the Dynamiter’s favour, with two goals in the first period and the decommissioning of the Riders’ top goal scorer Josh McCulloch, who was knocked unconscious after being hit into the boards. The Riders continued to lose key forwards as an injured Spencer Bender left the ice and Cavin Tilsley was sent to the dressing room after throwing his gloves to fight veteran Nitros troublemaker Eric Buckley.
The second period brought some redemption for the Fernie boys with two goals from Tayler Sincennes and Aaron Neufeld, leaving the game tied up coming into the third. Kimberley kept the pressure on with another goal early in the set, which was countered with two in quick succession from Justin Peers and Evan Reid. The Riders looked set to take the win until the final seconds of the game, when the Dynamiters put one more in the net for a 4-4 tie at the end of regulation.
A fruitless first five minutes of overtime only served to heighten the excitement around the arena, but despite a handful of opportunities on both sides, a game-winning goal never eventuated by the time the final buzzer sounded.
The 4-4 tie at home in combination with an 8-1 win in Beaver Valley on Friday night keeps the Riders sitting pretty at the top of their division, despite having played five fewer games than their closest competitor, Golden. Cole Keebler earned yet another hat trick during Friday’s drubbing of the Nitehawks, in addition to two goals from McCulloch and one apiece from David Kelly, Joel Burgess and team captain Dylan Robertson.
“It was a huge win… [the Nitehawks] won the Keystone Cup last year, and they have a hard barn to win in,” said defenceman Travis Thomsen regarding Friday’s game.
“It was a long road trip, and not the best conditions in Beaver Valley. We had to dress in the hallways!” he added.
In his second year with the club, Thomsen has transitioned smoothly into his role as an assistant captain. While he admits that last season was a challenging one, the difference this year has been a positive one for the South Country local.
“I’ve had to step up and be a leader to all the guys and show them the ropes… it’s a lot of fun,” explained Thomsen.
The Ghostriders will travel to Kimberley for the first time this season on Friday, before returning to Fernie to host the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Saturday. The Riders fell to the Thundercats in a surprising 4-0 shutout in Creston on November 8, making this weekend’s game a must-see grudge match for Fernie fans. As always, the puck drops at 7:30 p.m.