KIJHL: Rockies take out Fernie and Nelson

The Fernie Ghostriders and Nelson Leafs were both crushed by Rockies last week

The Fernie Ghostriders and Nelson Leafs were both crushed by the Columbia Valley Rockies last week.

Both opponents posed a large threat. Nelson has more than twice as many points as the Rockies in the standings, and Fernie is the leading team in the Kootenay Conference of the KIJHL.

But despite the imbalance in the standings, Columbia Valley didn’t relent against Fernie during their visit on Tuesday, January 13th.

“There were good, timely saves by (goaltender Jason) Sandhu in the first — they came out hard,” said Rockies general manager Ross Bidinger.

While the Rockies were outshot 18-10 in the first period, Columbia Valley’s Harrison Davies scored the lone goal midway through.

Halfway into the second, Davies scored again. Assists went to Sam Young and Damon Raven.

But just nine seconds after taking a 2-0 lead, a quick goal by Ghostrider Sam Plaquin cut his team’s deficit in half.

Minutes later, Joel Burgess of the Ghostriders, who is among the league’s leading scorers, tied the game at two.

The tie carried into the third period, but was quickly broken by Kale Johnston of the Rockies. But less than a minute later, a shorthanded goal by Plaquin evened the score at three.

As the third period was reaching its midway point, Columbia Valley’s Dario Piva scored to reclaim his team’s lead for the third time.

Fernie was hungry to tie the game again. While the pressure was intensifying as the clock wound down, the Ghostriders exchanged their goalie for an extra attacker. The Rockies stood their ground, and Piva scored on an empty net with 21 seconds to go to ensure the win. Sandhu had made 37 saves.

“The guys could just taste it,” Bidinger said. “They played with a lot of desire and emotion and a good defensive game.”

The Rockies stayed hot into the weekend when Nelson was in town on Friday, January 16th.

Just like the previous game, Davies opened the game’s scoring in the first, and the Rockies took a 1-0 lead into the second.

The Rockies held that slim lead for more than 25 minutes before doubling it, when Sam Young scored in the final seconds of the second.

During the final period, Malcolm Fenelon netted a power play goal to add another point to the Rockies’ lead.

Columbia Valley ended the game with a 3-0 win. Sandhu stopped 25 shots, and was named the game’s home star for both games. Assists went to Piva, Davies, Raven, Braydon Barker, and Kellen Marchand.

“They came with all their weapons. We played good defence, and Sandhu showed us another really good game,” said Bidinger. “(Head coach) Wade (Dubielewicz)’s been working lots with them on defensive zone, and they’re developing and playing well.”

Columbia Valley was hoping to use their momentum against the Kelowna Chiefs on Sunday, January 18th. But the Chiefs cancelled for the third time. That game will have to be rescheduled again.

The Rockies next game takes place in Kimberley on Friday, January 23rd. Kimberley will then be in the valley for a game on Tuesday, January 27th.