By Sara Moulton
Free Press Staff
Fernie hockey fans were not disappointed on Sunday night as the Ghostriders hosted the Columbia Valley Rockies in their final home game for the regular season.
The game on February 16 coincided with the Alberta Family Day holiday, drawing over 650 spectators to the Fernie Memorial Arena. With the score tied 4-4 after three hard-fought regulation periods, the teams battled into overtime before Aaron Neufeld scored the winning goal for the Ghostriders.
The Rockies dominated the first two periods of the game, with two goals for the Riders from Joel Burgess and Kurtis Bond (assisted by Jake MacLachlan and Bond, and MacLachlan and Ben Primeau respectively) scoring two goals for the Riders compared to four for the Rockies.
However, the home team returned from the second intermission with renewed energy and it wasn’t long before Aidan Geiger (assisted by JJ Beitel and Dylan Robertson) put the puck in the net to keep the Riders in contention for the win. With only 90 seconds left before the end of the third period, Spencer Bender (assisted by Bond and Primeau) brought the crowd to their feet as he scored the equalizer and sent the game into overtime.
The end of the first five minutes of overtime saw some commotion around the Rockies’ net as their goaltender Stewart Pratt appeared to sustain an injury. With backup goalie Brody Nelson replacing his teammate after sitting on the bench for 65 minutes, it took Neufeld (assisted by Geiger and Robertson) less than a minute and a half to score the fifth and final goal of the night for the Riders.
The focus of the team is now on the seven-game playoff series against the Kimberley Dynamiters, which will begin in Kimberley next Tuesday, February 25. Captain of the Ghostriders Ben Primeau thanked fans for their support throughout the regular season and is looking forward to a successful campaign in the upcoming weeks.
“We were pretty excited tonight, to come back in our last home game and win the way we did,” said Primeau.
“The fan support has been great this season and we’ll be working for a good result against Kimberley.”
Don’t miss the two playoff games in Fernie on Wednesday, February 26 and Saturday, March 1 at the Fernie Memorial Arena.