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Ghostriders lose to Beaver Valley Nitehawks March 24, 2012

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By George Hurlbut

The Ghostriders lost to the first place overall Beaver Valley Nitehawks in five games. The Ghostriders actually outshot the Hawks in the four games that they lost but in the end it boiled down to the fact that they just couldn’t finish enough of the good, and sometimes great, scoring chances they fought for. The Riders only scored 12 goals in the series which is an average of 2.4 goals a game, well below their regular season average of 4.56. The Hawks on the other hand scored 20 and averaged 4 a game but even they were below their season average of 6.21. Proving one thing, it’s harder to score in the playoffs and you have to finish whatever good chances you get.

This year
It was a pretty good season overall for the Ghostriders who finished with 75 points, a 35-12-5 record, and a Eddie Mountain Division Championship for the seventh year in a row by defeating Golden and most importantly Kimberley in the first two playoff rounds.

The youngest team
Usually here in Fernie the Riders have a group of mostly 18-19 and 20 year old veteran players but this season GM Verner experimented by icing one of the youngest teams they have ever had and they had a pretty good season with only a couple of hiccups (short losing streaks).

We will find out exactly what the coaches thought of the younger players in the next day or so at the awards banquet. Some of the younger guys looked way out of place at the start of the season but they got better as the season progressed and in the end they all proved they belong in this league and some of them have shown that they deserve to move up next season.
It will be interesting to see who gets the Rookie of the Year and the Most Improved Awards… they may have to put more than two names on those trophies. Then there’s the Top defenseman, MVP, Most Exciting and Most Inspirational… I’m glad I don’t have to pick the winners. Anyway, we will have all the awards winners here in the next few days.

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks 87 points and first overall will now move on to play the Kelowna Chiefs 56 points and thirteenth overall in the KIJHL Final. The numbers say it’s 4 straight… but Kelowna may surprise, they have some pretty good players who didn’t seem to get it together until later in the season.

Fernie Ghostriders take Kimberley in 7 March 16, 2012

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By George Hurlbut

The Ghostriders won their (always controversial- and thank god it was as we love the great emotion) series against the Kimberley Dynamiters with a 6-2 win at home in game seven. The Riders played an almost perfect game (at least by Jr. B standards) in the win and allowed few great scoring chances. When they did allow some hot shots Chris Solecki was there and made some great confidence shedding saves.

Adversity…certainly not University
The Ghostriders also fought off the adversity of losing the night before when they snatched a defeat out of the jaws of victory because of discipline and weak refereeing. Yes there is a big difference in the calls and non calls between referees. In game seven stripes Waugh allowed the players to determine the outcome and both teams got away with some things and were called for some. The Nitros went 0-7 Fernie was 2-6 on the PP. The Riders emotion level was on extreme after losing their Captain Ty Morton and the hardnosed Brendon Mangone to game misconducts at the end of game six and Cole Conway to injury but they contained it and used it to their advantage by playing at a fevered pitch in game seven against the Nitro’s, especially in the first period. There was also some adversity between the fans…thus the certainly not University.

The three stars of game 7
The three stars on the game sheet were players who had not had particularly great series’ but really showed what they could do under pressure. Josh McSkimming always has some moments in the games he plays but in 7 he was a force and was named as the first star, I was quite happy to see him get the empty netter after all of the effort he showed. Patrick Webb filled in nicely with Morton out and Burgess injured clearing the puck and getting in the faces of the Nitro’s once in a while. Alex Milhouse scored his second goal of the series and had an assist and was named as the third star. He came through when we needed him most. The Riders will need those same performances from these guys next week.

The Ghost would be a ghost
Brendan Burge is leading the team with 11 goals and 15 assists in 11 games while Connor McLaughlin is right behind with 12 goals and 9 assists. The Ghost would be a ghost right now without these two great players.

Coach Verner on the series
Verner “We felt it was going to be a longer series. We felt going in that it would be 6 or 7 games and that would mean we would lose at least 2 or 3 games if we were fortunate enough to win. Losing is never fun yet it forces you to make adjustments and answer questions. Game 3 and 4 were the changing point for our club in the series as we were either going to make some changes in the way we played as a group or we were going to be out in 6 games. Kimberley earned huge momentum at the end of game 2 when they fought back and almost tied the game and it took us until game 5 to get the momentum back. Game 6 was probably the best game of the series as both teams played well. Game 7 was an outstanding performance by our players. They really rallied around our guys who were out of the line up and played a complete 60 minutes”.

The Players of the Series
The coaches picked Austin Evans as the Player of the Series, can’t say enough about this guy. Evans came here as a fast skating forward but he also has toughened up as the season has progressed and will play Jr “A” next season.
Goal of the Series Ben Primeau (game five he gave the Riders 5-3 lead) and is an unheralded point a game player.
The coaches picked Carson Brown as the Unsung hero of the Series. Brown has the hardest body checks of all the players, honorable mention to Dylan Robertson who plays a rockem sockem style. He shoulda been here in the 1990’s when the Riders always had over 2000 PIM.

And Finally
It was great to hear the Golden Voice of Howie Ashmore making the announcements at the game the other night. Howie was the radio voice of the Ghostriders and the Elk Valley Blazers for years and years but we rarely hear him anymore. Won a couple of FMCHL rec hockey championships with Howie back in the 1980’s

Fernie Ghostriders Up Two on Kimberley March 9, 2012

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By George Hurlbut

The Ghostriders won the first game here in Fernie by a 5-2 score then traveled to Kimberley on Wednesday where they won 8-7 and now lead the series 2-0. The winner of this series will play the winner of the Beaver Valley – Castlegar series. Beaver Valley currently leads the Rebels 2-0 . The winner of that series will have home ice advantage against either Fernie or Kimberley.

In the West Kootenay’s
The other two series’ are Princeton- Kelowna, where Princeton won the first two games despite being without 5 players and their coach Dale Hladun after their series win against Pentiction. There were several fights etc with 7 seconds left in the game that all started when a Pentiction played hit another player from behind. Pentiction coach Robert Dirk (the old Canuck) says they started it… cept it was his player who made the hit from behind when they were down 3 goals. The other series sees Kamloops and Sicamous tied up at 1 game apiece. Sicamous defeated Revelstoke in a game seven that never started until midnight in Revelstoke because they were held up on the highway by an avalanche. Revy coach Randy Quakenbush says “sometimes the best team doesn’t always win”… gotta love those hate to lose attitudes.

Game two
In Kimberley the Ghostriders and Nitros combined for 15 goals in a penalty filled game. The Nitros were ahead 1-0 at the end of the first but a penalty filled second period changed everything. When it was over the Riders had scored five goals. Three on the power play and one shorthanded.

In the third with the Riders up 8-5 and only 2:37 left in the game Dylan Robertson got 5 minutes for clipping and Kimberley scored two goals making it 8-7 and a little too close for comfort… but the Nitros ran out of time. All in all there were 11 special team’s goals.

Three Stars
Stefen Seel was a scratch in game one but scored three goals in game two and was the first star. Nitro Rylan Duley with 2 goals and 3 assists was the second star and Connor McLaughlin with 2 goals and an assist was the third star.

Evan Burgess is out while RT Rice and Derek Georgopoulos who has been out for about 6 weeks and is now skating, are both listed as day to day. Dylan Robertson is suspended for Friday’s game due to a major penalty on Wednesday in Kimberley.

Connor McLaughlin and Brendan Burge each have 15 points and are averaging 2.5 points a game while the apparently notorious Marty wicks leads the D men with 8 points in 6 games.
Nitro Rylan Duley had 5 points in the last game and Richard Hubscher and Senate Patten each had 4 points in the first two games and need to be watched, by the Riders and the fans as they can play the game.

Fernie Ghostriders play Kimberley in the second round March 6, 2012

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By George Hurlbut

How they got here
The Ghostriders won four straight against Golden. Their first two games at home against Golden were 6-1 and 4-2 wins. In Golden in game three the Riders won 9-4, Brendan Burge and Connor McLaughlin each had 2 goals and 3 assists while Ben Primeau had a goal and 3 assists and both Fraser Abdallah and Chris Solecki split the duties in net. Game four was the closest game of all for the Riders and it took two overtime periods before Stefen Seel finally scored on the PP. Brendan Burge and Alex Milhouse scored the other goals and Chris Solecki was outstanding in the Rider net.

Kimberley got here by defeating the fourth place Creston Thunder Cats in six games. Two of the games went to OT. Kimberley’s wins were 2-1 OT, 6-3, 5-0 and they ended their series with an 8-1 win in Creston last Friday night. The Nitros finished in second place this season with 74 points just one point behind the Ghostriders. Nitro forward Richard Hubscher was the KIJHL’s top scorer this season and Braeden Osterpchuk was named as the KIJHL’s top goaltender.

Head to Head
The Ghostriders finished in first place in their division so will have home ice advantage in this series. The Riders averaged 4.56 goals a game this year and allowed an average of 2.85 goals against. Their goals against was second only to Castlegar who averaged 2.56. Kimberley was a little different, they like to score and play a bit of a high risk high reward game. They averaged 5.37 goals a game but their goals against average was 3.12 and they won 5 of eight games vs Fernie this season. Kimberley’ Senate Patten leads his team in the playoffs with 11 points and Richard Hubscher has 9 points.

Congratulations Will Verner and Ty Morton
Before game one of the Golden series Eddie Mountain Vice President Milton Crawford presented Ghostriders Coach Will Verner the Eddie Mountain Coach of the Year Award and then he gave Rider Captain Ty Morton the Eddie Mountain Top Defenseman award. Morton scored a lot of points while Captaining the team and Verner coached the youngest ever Ghostriders team to a first place finish.

After the first round.
Connor McLaughlin leads the Ghostriders with 10 points followed closely by Brendan Burge with 8 and Alex Milhouse and Ben Primeau with 7 each. Injuries, Derek Georgopoulos is the only player out of the line-up, and may miss another week.