Things have been looking up for the Columbia Valley Rockies as of late, with the team recently getting their second win of the season, and scorelines becoming much less one-sided in their latest games. This was the situation heading into a pair of games against the Fernie Ghostriders, who sit tied atop the Eddie Mountain Division with the Kimberley Dynamiters heading into the final part of the season, in the Rockies final pair of games before the Christmas break.
The Rockies opened the home-and-home set in Fernie Friday, December 16, and while the game remained scoreless until the final minutes of the frame, the Ghostriders had the definite advantage, putting up 22 shots to the Rockies five, before scoring three quick goals to close out the period. In the second, recently acquired forward Josh Haley put up his first goal with the club and third of the year to give the Rockies hope at a 3-1 deficit early in the frame, but a penalty shortly after gave the Ghostriders the man advantage, and after taking a 4-1 lead they simply did not look back.
Including the powerplay marker that made it 4-1, the Ghostriders scored 10 unanswered goals stretching into the third period, before the Rockies could get their second of the night with two minutes remaining on a goal by Spencer Johnston. A final score of 14-2 was one of the most lopsided defeats of the season for the Rockies, who understandably had high hopes heading into the game, having recently taken the Kimberley Dynamiters right down to the wire in their last game, December 10. The Rockies were out-shot 61-17, while allowing three powerplay goals in eight opportunities in what became a chippy game at the end, with the two teams combining for 12 penalties in the final frame alone.
All of this led to a second match between the two teams the following night, with the Rockies no doubt seeking a little retribution for the manhandling they received in the last game. However, the Rockies again came out flat in the first period, getting out-shot 18-4 in front of their home fans on what was shaping up to be another tough night for the Rockies. Early on, it looked like goalie Travis Beekhuizen might just have another one of those nights where he stymies opposing shooters time after time, but the Ghostriders pressure was relentless, and they put up four goals before the end of the period.
The second period saw much of the same, as Fernie scored just 20 seconds into the period to go up 5-0 on a visibly frustrated Rockies team. Another goal a minute later prompted coach Marc Ward to put in his backup goalie to try and help stop the bleeding, but there was little that could be done against a hungry Fernie squad, as they piled on three more goals before the end of the second to head into the third up by a score of 9-0.
“We definitely didn’t play our best,” coach Marc Ward said. “When we had spurts of playing our best we gained confidence, but then got away from our game and tried to do too much individually.”
With the game long out of reach, the third period was merely a formality, although to their credit the Rockies never quit on their coach. Three more Fernie goals made for a final score of 12-0, as the Ghostriders again out-shot the Rockies by a huge margin, this time 35-10 through two periods and 43-20 overall.
“We give up way too many shots,” Ward said. “I’m okay with us getting around 20 shots, but our shots against need to go way down, guys need to be better in the defensive zone and be more aggressive. We’re giving up way too many shots, but they’re quality shots as well, and that’s one of our biggest issues right now.”
The pair of losses drops the Rockies to 2-33-0-1 for the season heading into a much-needed Christmas break. The Rockies don’t play again until Saturday, January 7 when they visit the Spokane Braves, and don’t play again at home until Friday January 13, again against Spokane.