Playing three consecutive games for the second time in less than two weeks, the Fernie Ghostriders emerged from the weekend with an even record, winning on home ice before dropping two games on the road, including an overtime loss Sunday afternoon in Sicamous. They finish the month of October with an impressive 7 – 3 – 1 record, but lead the Kimberley Dynamiters by only two points heading into Friday night’s tilt against Golden.
Things were just getting underway on Friday evening when a pane of glass near the Rider’s penalty box was shattered by a shot, less than three minutes into the first period. The delay allowed fans to top up their beverages and catch a few pitches from the World Series, while Fernie’s rink crew showcased their efficiency in safely replacing the glass.
After about 40 minutes, play resumed and Kimberley jumped on a Ghostriders team that appeared a little too relaxed after the break. The Dynamiters did a good job of getting pucks deep and pressuring Fernie defensemen, turning several turnovers into quality scoring chances. Kimberley was finally rewarded, when Chris Strachan converted on a powerplay midway through the frame.
The Dynamiters had several chances to increase the lead, but Chris Solecki was solid in net for the Riders, turning away 20 of 21 first period shots. The humble goaltender was impressed with his team’s bounce back in the final 40 plus minutes.
“After the glass broke in the first period, for whatever reason Kimberley came out a lot harder than we did. It was lucky that we were able to keep the game close. In the second and third though, I felt we took control of the game.”
Fernie did settle in during the second period, but it was once again the Dynamiters scoring on an early powerplay. Just over a minute later, Alex Pronchuk scored his first of two goals in the period, giving the home team some needed momentum. The Riders continued to pressure throughout the third, until forward Brendon Magnone finally tied things up with his ninth goal of the season.
It would seem fitting that these two division rivals would need overtime to decide yet another close game, although five minutes of four on four just wasn’t enough. A second overtime was needed, this time each team playing three players to a side. The exciting, pond hockey type finish saw both teams exchange chances, but it was Marty Wicks scoring the game winner with less than a minute to play. Streaking down the left side, the defenseman fired a snap shot over the glove of a helpless Jeremy Mousseau to give the Ghostriders the extra point.
The Riders then headed to Revelstoke on Saturday, dropping a one goal decision to the Grizzlies. An early parade to the penalty box cost Fernie, as Revelstoke scored two first period powerplay goals. Despite a two goal pushback in the third, Revelstoke held on for the 3 – 2 win.
Close games were the rule this weekend, and Sunday afternoon in Sicamous was no exception. Requiring overtime for the second time in three nights, this time it was the Eagles scoring in the extra period, giving the Riders their first back to back losses of the season.
The Ghostriders went just 2 for 23 on the man advantage in their three games this weekend. Head Coach Will Verner was impressed with some aspects of his team’s play, but recognizes his powerplay will have to be better.
“Special teams weren’t good enough. If they were better we probably got at least four points this weekend.”
Despite the low clip on the powerplay, he also knows it’s something that can be quickly turned around with practice.
“It’s something we haven’t spent a lot of time on. Some teams will live and die by it at the beginning of the year. I like to definitely work on the powerplay, but I like to get some of the other stuff in order first. I think it’s time to step that up, and as bad as it was I think it can be really good, really quickly.”
The Ghostriders are home again this Friday, when they host the Golden Rockets. As always, puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
By Matt Laurin