The Fernie Ghostriders have run over the KIJHL this year. Their only major blemish? A trio of losses at the hands of the Golden Rockets, including a narrow 3-2 defeat Friday night.
“I think we match up well against them and I think we’re motivated. I know a lot of our guys know a lot of their players, so maybe it’s the motivation of playing against a buddy…we seem to play good games against them. It’s nice,” said head coach Ty Davidson.
Cole Mckechney was the hero with a late power play goal that was the difference in a hotly contested matchup between two teams that don’t appear to like each other very much.
With the Rockets a man up, Tanner Watt made a brilliant pass to find a waiting Mckechney alone in front of the Fernie net.
“You want to get rid of it pretty quick but not too quick, you want to make sure you get a good shot away especially late in the game,” Mckechney said.
Patiently waiting for Riders goalie Jeff Orser to make the first move, Mckechney allowed the netminder to slide too far to his right and found an opening on the far side. It was a great display from the centreman, who has been much more of a playmaker than goal scorer as the Rockets’ assist leader.
“I haven’t scored one in a while so it feels good,” he said, grinning from ear to ear.
There were few chances to score in the game’s opening frame, but give the Rockets a slim edge in play as they outshot the Ghostriders by a 14-3 count (the Riders might be crying foul that they weren’t credited with a few more).
It didn’t take long for the game’s first goal once the second was underway.
Nic Noseworthy fired a solid, low shot on Orser less than five minutes into the period. While Orser made the initial stop, he allowed the rebound to find Ian Desrosier at the goal mouth. The Rockets’ top sniper tapped the loose puck home for his 15th of the season, which is one more than he scored in 49 games last year.
The Riders were quick to respond four minutes later on a goal by Aaron Neufeld. The goal closed the scoring for the second frame and sent the team’s to the dressing room knotted at a goal apiece.
As the Rockets’ fans were still settling into their seats, Tanner Watt found a rebound of his own off a Desrosier shot and buried it behind Orser for a 2-1 lead.
Rockets goaltender Magnus Viberg, who would only face 18 shots on the night, began to leave his mark on the game at that point with a few key stops.
Viberg eventually relented midway through the third when Riders’ forward Cole Keebler streamed in alone and snuck a nifty backhander past him glove side for a tie game.
A Spencer Bender interference penalty late in the third set up Mckechney’s late-game heroics, and Viberg and the defence held strong against a late Fernie onslaught.
The win moves the Rockets to 11-10-0-2 and drops Fernie to 15-4-0-1, with three of their five regulation and OT defeats coming against Golden.
“It was a very good game. This is the type of game, going into the schedule that we have over the next week, to get some nice footing that we need to get some confidence…it’s great for us going forward,” Davidson said.
The Rockets will get right back at it tonight with a home tilt against the North Okanagan Knights. The Knights are winners of just three games so far this year, and are currently holding down last place in the KIJHL.