By Matt Laurin
The Fernie Ghostriders are winless in their last three games, after earning just a single point in a home and home series against Castlegar this weekend.
After losing 5 – 2 against the Rebels on Friday, the Riders looked in control to earn the split, carrying a two-goal lead into the third period on Saturday.
The Rebels had other plans.
Diego Bartlett gave the visitors hope with an early third period goal, before Jamie Vlanich silenced Fernie Memorial Arena with just 30 seconds to play.
Ten minutes of overtime, including five minutes of three-on-three, solved nothing and the Ghostriders, who managed 12 shots in overtime, were forced to settle with a single point.
“Saturday was obviously tough,” said forward Braeden Monk following the rare tie. “We felt like we deserved better. It wasn’t just that we tied, but it was how we tied. We felt like we played a solid game, even without some of our top players, so it was frustrating.”
The Ghostriders were playing without their top scorer, Brendan Burge, who was away celebrating the birth of his daughter. He hopes to return later in the month.
Fortunately for the Riders (16 – 6 – 1 – 2), the Kimberley Dynamiters lost twice over the weekend, and remain three points back in the Eddie Mountain Division.
December is a crucial month for the Ghostriders. With 12 games this month, including four against the rival Dynamiters, the Riders have a chance to create some separation within the division.
“There is no doubt it’s a big month for us,” said Monk. “We’re playing some real quality teams.”
Monk, who joined the Riders after two seasons in Revelstoke, has heard how much the rivalry means to the Valley.
“I wasn’t here the last couple of seasons, but I certainly have heard what these games mean. I’ve been told it can get pretty rowdy when Kimberley comes to town, but we look forward to that.”
Before worrying about Kimberley, the Riders will have their hands full when they begin a home and home series against the Nitehawks on Friday in Beaver Valley. It is the first time the teams have met since the 2012 playoffs, when the Hawks won in five games.
“They won the conference last year after beating us,” said Monk. “It’s obviously pretty easy to get jacked up to play Beaver Valley.”
Be sure to come watch the Ghostriders faceoff against the defending Kootenay Conference Champions on Saturday night in Fernie. As always, puck drops at 7:30 p.m.