By Sara Moulton
Free Press Staff
The Fernie Ghostriders fought back from their previous week’s slump to win two games in a row, including thrashing the Nelson Leafs 7-2 on Friday, December 6.
The Riders worked hard during their mid-week road game in Golden on Wednesday, December 4, with the score tied at 2-all at the end of the third period. As the game went into overtime for their third match in a row, Aaron Neufeld (assisted by Spencer Bender) scored the winning goal for the Ghostriders.
Back in Fernie, fans were excited at the prospect of a double-header weekend at home. However, the exceptionally cold weather affecting the region caused the Creston Valley Thunder Cats to cancel their trip to Fernie on Saturday due to frozen brakes on their bus. The unexpected night off didn’t seem to faze the Riders, who were still in high spirits after their win against Nelson the night before.
The Ghostriders showed their skill and strength right from the beginning of Friday’s match, but it was rookie Kale Johnston who really shined when he scored his first hat trick in his junior career. Jon Thompson, Spencer Bender, Kurtis Bond and team captain Ben Primeau all added to the scoreboard as the Leafs failed to match the energy of the home team. By the end of the first period, the Riders had almost as many shots on goal as Nelson achieved for the entire game. The extra practise since the Ghostriders previous defeats seems to be paying off, with only one goal out of four being conceded while short handed this week.
Johnston has been consistent in both goals and assists during his first season with the Ghostriders, but despite scoring three goals in the game against Nelson he was quick to acknowledge his teammates.
“I’m playing on an amazing line with our captain (Primeau) and an assistant captain (Burgess); they’ve been giving me some great options and tonight, scoring three goals, I can only really take credit for one of them.”
The team has also been appreciating the support of the ever-growing crowds as the winter season brings a new wave of seasonal residents to the Valley.
“It feels amazing,” said Johnston. “Growing up in a small town, in Powell River, we get our parents coming to our games but that’s about it. Coming into this atmosphere just makes you want to excel.”
With the Riders now placed second in their division, the upcoming weeks should bring some great hockey to the Fernie Memorial Arena. The next home game will be held on Saturday, December 14 at 7:30 pm against the Castlegar Rebels, and will feature the annual Teddy Bear Toss. Bring along a teddy, toque or mitts to throw onto the ice when the Ghostriders score their first goal of the night.