The Columbia Valley Rockies Junior B hockey team nearly came back to force their season-opening game into overtime, but a last-minute Fernie Ghostriders’ goal ensured a loss in regulation.
“Most of the slow start was a result of being shorthanded in the first half,” said Rockies general manager Ross Bidinger.
Over the first 40 minutes of play, the Rockies spent 21 minutes in the penalty box, compared to Fernie’s 14.
“We came in looking good but we started slow,” said Bidinger. “It took us a while to get our confidence.” Fernie took an early lead by scoring three minutes after the opening puck drop. Before the first period came to a close, the Ghostriders took the score to 2-0 with a power play goal.
Just one goal was scored in the second period, and it was awarded to Fernie, as they scored again on the power play. But the Rockies weren’t about to let the Ghostriders win the game that easily. Sam Young gave the Rockies the first goal of the 2014-2015 season midway through the third, assisted by Ryan Lawson.
Shortly after that, a fight broke out involving Rockies goaltender Brody Nelson, which saw him thrown from the game and gave his team a five-minute major.“He played okay but it was pretty stupid move on his part,” Bidinger said. “We scored our first goal, then he got a fighting penalty.”
Nonetheless, the officiating was very inconsistent and one-sided, he said.
Goaltender Talon Walton filled in for the remaining 13 minutes of the game, making his Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) debut.
A little over three minutes was left on the clock when Matthew Bruyer scored an unassisted goal for the Rockies, bringing the home team within one for the final stretch.
“We were coming in strong – there were lots of chances to tie it there.”
But Ghostrider Sam Plaquin scored his second of the evening with 64 seconds on the clock, solidifying Fernie’s lead at 4-2.
Nelson stopped 28 of 31 shots, and Walton blocked nine of 10. The Rockies are at home against next Saturday, September 19th when the Osoyoos Coyotes are at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena. Columbia Valley will be on the road the following night in Kimberley, as they face the Dynamites at the Kimberley Civic Centre.