Sara MoultonFree Press Staff
It’s an otherwise normal Tuesday night practice at the Fernie Memorial Arena, but something different is brewing down in the crease.
Goalie tandem Jeff Orser and Brandon Butler listen patiently to the team’s goaltending consultant Gerry Pang, then take turns throwing themselves sideways in front of the net in a way not often seen anymore – known to the hockey world as the two-pad stack.
“This is a desperation move … but shooters don’t expect today’s goalies to stack the pads,” explains Pang.
“The desperation move just might save a goal, so why not bring back the stack?”
Jeff Orser and Brandon Butler take turns stacking the pads. Photos: Sara Moulton
With decades of experience in all things goaltending, Pang has seen more than a few strategies come and go in an attempt to stop a puck. It’s been 45 years since he helped his son, Darren, strap on the pads for the first time, before overseeing his eventual development into a NHL netminder for the Chicago Blackhawks. Here in the KIJHL, the Fernie Ghostriders have benefited greatly over the years from the wisdom and patience that Pang brings to the bench as a volunteer consultant.
“Panger has been around for so long and has so much experience, and as the elder statesman, I find he has a calming factor,” says Craig Mohr, the head coach and general manager of the Riders.
“He gives the goaltenders a voice and is someone they can talk to; someone who is there specifically to watch them, because sometimes goalies can get forgotten.”
As Orser and Butler continue practicing their new manoeuvre, it is clear how much they appreciate the guidance of their mentor. However, when Pang begins speaking about his pupils, it quickly becomes obvious that the respect is mutual.
“It’s a real pleasure to work with our two young goalies … even in a loss, [they] have played well and that makes me so proud of them.
“Both [Orser and Butler] and the rest of the team make this group very dangerous, and the early season mountain we had to climb to get to the top is in sight, but we have to work harder and the Ghostriders are no strangers to hard work.”
Brandon Butler, Gerry Pang and Jeff Orser. Photo: Sara Moulton
The Riders have now clinched the top spot in the Eddie Mountain division and will play only two more games on home ice before the playoffs commence. And who knows – with all the excitement and unpredictability of post-season clashes, perhaps it’ll be a last-second stack that determines the outcome of a critical tilt.