The Ghostriders made a triumphant return to the Fernie Memorial Arena with a 6-3 victory in their first home game of the 2014-15 season.
Over 400 fans stood in the stands to cheer on the Riders, as they hosted the Golden Rockets last Saturday in a high-energy game with plenty of action. Golden opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal late in the first period, which was quickly countered by a fantastic unassisted shot by rookie Josh McCulloch.
The Riders came out swinging in the second period to put two through the pipes, courtesy of Joel Burgess (assisted by Cavin Tilsley) and Cole Keebler, who is back in Fernie after recovering from a serious shoulder injury last season. Ghostrider goalie, Jeff Orser, kept the Rockets out of the net before the break to set up the home side for an explosive third period.
Golden showed they weren’t ready to roll over, as they scored two goals within the first few minutes of the third, and opened the floodgates for a series of on-ice scuffles, resulting in Fernie’s Travis Thomsen and Golden’s Spencer Gerth being sent off for fighting. However, the Riders proved themselves as the stronger team, with three more goals by Derek Georgopoulos, Justin Peers (assisted by Tilsley and Keebler) and Burgess who put the icing on the cake by scoring on an empty net.
The win is the fifth out of six games this season for the Ghostriders, keeping the team near the top of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) standings. Head coach and general manager Craig Mohr acknowledged the efforts of his players in overcoming their first period nerves and getting through their home opener.
“There were a lot of emotions, but the second period was awesome,” Mohr reflected. “Golden’s goalie made some great saves but we kept coming back. It showed good leadership and [Burgess] was rewarded for his hard work with an empty netter at the end.”
Fans will be familiar with Burgess’ reputation for high performance throughout the past few seasons, as both an assistant captain and top scorer in the 2013-14 season. His two goals during the first home game of the year are a sign of things to come for the 20-year-old in his final KIJHL season.
“The puck just came to me and felt good… I’m pretty happy about it,” said Burgess of his two goals. “We’ve got lots of good guys coming in this year; lots of speed, lots of talent. Things are coming together nicely.”
The Ghostriders will travel to Golden on Friday before hosting the Summerland Steam in Fernie the following night. The Steam are the only team to have defeated the Riders so far this season, making Saturday’s game a must-see for fans.
The puck drops at the Fernie Memorial Arena at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 4.