The Fernie Ghostriders earned the split against the Castlegar Rebels on Friday and Saturday, both teams winning on home ice, before finishing the weekend with a 9 – 2 win on Sunday afternoon in Grand Forks. The four points gained equals Fernie’s lead over their rival Kimberley Dynamiters, who pay a visit this Friday in what the late Ed Whalen would refer to as a ring a dong dandy!
The two victories improve the Riders’ record to 11 wins and three losses, with an impressive 6 – 2 record in the month of October. Heading into another crucial three game set, captain Ty Morton knows his team must keep their foot on the pedal.
“This is obviously a big weekend coming up. The three games in three nights thing, it takes a toll on your decision making. You’re obviously tired, but you just have to put in the extra effort; gear down and get ready to play.”
Playing at Fernie Memorial Arena for just the fifth time this season, the Riders looked right at home on Friday night. From the moment the puck dropped, Fernie controlled the action, hemming in a Castlegar team that appeared overwhelmed by the home team’s puck possession and physical play. Coupled with strong decision making in their own end, the Riders defensemen were equally impressive and smart outlet passes made it difficult for the Rebels to gain any sort of momentum.
Ty Morton, as he’s done several times already this season, got the home team on the board on a powerplay midway through the first period. Import Andrew White fed a pass to the big defenseman, who connected on the one timer for his seventh goal of the season. A few minutes later, forward George Georgopolous showcased great speed beating the Rebel goaltender for a loose puck and tucking in a shorthanded wraparound to give his team a two goal lead.
Whether it was a case of overconfidence, or the visitors finding their legs, the Riders looked complacent at times in the second period. Castlegar took advantage of some sloppy passing and briefly tied things, scoring twice in less than a minute. The Ghostriders would respond, however, and Brendon Magnone restored the lead before Marty Wicks got the insurance marker on a late period powerplay. Fernie settled back into their game, and successfully limited the Rebels from sustaining any real pressure through the final frame.
Heading back to Castlegar on Saturday, the Rebels raised their compete level. Despite a good push back late in the game, Fernie was unable to get the equalizer, dropping a 2 – 1 decision.
The Ghostriders then travelled to Grand Forks on Sunday, and despite the lopsided 9 – 2 win, Head Coach Will Verner was not impressed with his team’s individual performance.
“We weren’t prepared to play. We were more focused on individual statistics than team play. I was quite happy with Friday and Saturday, but Sunday I was really disappointed in our group. We’ll have some good practices this week and get prepared for Kimberley.”
Hockey resumes in Fernie this Friday, when the Riders welcome the Kimberley Dynamiters into hostile territory. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
By Matt Laurin