The Fernie Ghostriders and Beaver Valley Nitehawks were in town on Friday and Saturday to take on the Rockies – and the home team had some new help, with twin brothers Stephen and Stewart Pratt both making their season debuts on Friday.
“Because Stewart was such a big part of our team last year, when he called me and wanted to come back and give it a try, I had my reservations because of his health,” said head coach Wade Dubielewicz. “But out of fairness to him and what he did for us last year, giving him a chance was the right thing to do.”
Coincidentally, his brother Stephen, who plays forward, was recently let go from a Junior A team in Calgary, allowing the twins to have identical inaugural evenings.
The matchup against Fernie was aggressive from the beginning, with Invermere having to kill eight-minutes worth of penalties to drag out a scoreless first period.
Both teams went back-and forth in the second fighting three penalties each – and in the final minute of the middle period, Matt Houston lit the lamp to break the nearly 40-minute long stalemate. Assists went to newcomer Stephen Pratt and defenceman Mitch Rosko.
While the Rockies were able to head to the dressing room with confidence, it was less than three minutes into the third when the Ghostriders tied the game with a goal of their own.
But five minutes later on a Rockies power play, Matt Houston scored again to regain his team’s lead. Stephen Pratt earned his second point with the Rockies that night with an assist, along with Nigel Swab.
During a five-minute major penalty against the Rockies, the team was unable to maintain their lead as Fernie scored in the final five minutes, sending the game to overtime.
It was an intense round of four-on-four action, until with 99 seconds to go, Nigel Swab and Damon Raven set up Kyle Pouncy to give Columbia Valley the overtime win. It was the Rockies’ first win against Fernie this season after three matchups.
“The difference with us is we really shored up our D-zone,” Mr. Dubielewicz said.
Goaltender Stewart Pratt saved 39 of 41 shots against for his 2013-2014 debut.
“It was really good to see, he’s a really good athlete and he reads the play well, it was nice to have that calming effect in net,” he said.
Pratt started in net again on Saturday, with the Nitehawks looking to add to their two-game win streak. At the end of the weekend, Beaver Valley was ranked second in the KIJHL’s Kootenay Conference with 38 point points.
While there were far fewer penalties on Saturday, the Rockies opponents were first to get on the scoreboard, scoring the lone goal of the opening period after nine minutes of play.
The Nitehawks extended their lead five minutes into the second, but at exactly 10:00 into the second, Jerome Thorne was set up by Stephen Pratt and Zachary Schlitt to bring the Rockies within one.
But the third period killed Columbia Valley’s chance at a comeback, as Beaver Valley scored two goals to defeat the Rockies with a score of 4 – 1. Stewart Pratt stopped 24 of 27 shots against; Conrad MacMillan allowed one goal while filling in during an equipment malfunction.
Goaltender Pratt stopped 63 of the 68 shots he faced during his first two games, and his twin brother scored three assists and picked up two penalty minutes.
The Rockies also played on Tuesday night in Kimberley, which took place after The Valley Echo’s press deadline.
“We’re a little bigger, a little stronger and a little grittier,” said Mr. Dubielewicz. “The Dynamiters are a very physical team; it should be a good match up.”
Tuesday’s game was the start of the Rockies four-game road trip, which also takes them to 100 Mile House on Friday, Kamloops on Saturday, and Chase on Sunday. They return home on Saturday, December 14th to take on the Creston Valley Thundercats.