By Matt Laurin
The Fernie Ghostriders took control in the Eddie Mountain Division, soundly beating the Columbia Valley Rockies before earning a big win in the hostile confines of Kimberley Civic Centre on Saturday.
The Riders (31 – 10 – 0 – 4) hold a narrow four point lead on the Nitros (30 – 12 – 1 – 1) heading into the final month of the regular season. With only seven games to play, every point in February will be crucial if the Ghostriders hope to capture a third consecutive division title.
“We’ve got to take care of our business and continue to play really good hockey,” said Head Coach Will Verner. “We said to the guys, even before the Kimberley game, that as long as we play as a team and stick to our game, we’re going to get the results we want down the stretch.”
Connor McLaughlin led the way for the Rider forwards, exploding for five goals and one assist, including a hat trick against the Dynamiters. He capped off his strong performance with a spirited tilt against Kimberley forward Olli Dickson.
Fernie beat Columbia Valley 7 – 1 on home ice on Friday evening, completely overwhelming an inferior Rockies team that has only three wins on the season.
Former Ghostrider goaltender Scott Legault turned in an admirable performance to keep the score respectable, turning away 51 of the 58 shots thrown in his direction.
Special teams were the story on Saturday night in Kimberley, with both teams combining for seven powerplay goals. Fernie went four for seven on the man advantage, including a pair of goals 23 seconds apart in the third period.
With Dallin Wolf serving a major penalty for an illegal check to the head, the Riders powerplay went to work. Veteran rearguard Zach Traverse scored the go ahead goal, before Connor McLaughlin scored the insurance goal to complete the hat trick.
The Ghostriders kick off the month of February with a home and home series against the Nelson Leafs, starting Friday night in Fernie. With only seven games remaining, be sure to get out and cheer on the Riders and make Fernie Memorial Arena the toughest barn in the league.