Each year, KIJHL fans in Kimberley and Fernie anxiously await the first meeting between the Dynamiters and Ghostriders.
Heck, even the coaches can’t contain their anticipation.
“Fernie is our number-one rivalry,” said Jerry Bancks, head coach of the Kimberley Dynamiters. “I’m looking forward to it.”
“It’s going to be a good, challenging weekend,” Ghostriders head coach Craig Mohr said to Leah Scheitel of The Free Press. “It’s always fun when you can play your main rival. It’s going to be awesome.”
Wait no more.
The Dynamiters and Ghostriders renew their Eddie Mountain Division rivalry this Friday at Fernie Memorial Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Outside of the standard rivalry bragging rights and two points on the line, also at stake for the Dynamiters is a 12-game winning streak, one which began back on Sept. 26 in a 4-3 victory over the Revelstoke Grizzlies.
As September came to a close, Bancks challenged his team to run the table through the month of October.
The troops answered the call and won all 10 games on the calendar through the month of October.
While Bancks believes longer-term goals are important, the Dynamiters will wait until they deal with the always-difficult Ghostriders before laying out any blueprints for the month of November and beyond.
“It’s important that you have monthly goals, but I don’t want them to think beyond Friday night,” Bancks said. “That’s a big game for us. After that, then we’ll look at some goals between now and Christmas.”
As has become routine, the first meeting of the season between the Nitros and ‘Riders is long awaited until the first week of November.
In 2014-15, the Ghostriders hosted the Dynamiters Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, in the first meeting between the two clubs.
Heading into that first meeting, the Ghostriders held the Eddie Mountain Division lead with a record of 13-2-0-1 (27 points), while the Dynamiters were in second place and hot in pursuit at 12-5-0-2 (26 points).
In 2015-16, very little has changed.
The two teams meet for the first time Friday, Nov. 6 in Fernie, though this time it’s the Ghostriders hot in pursuit of the Dynamiters.
The Nitros (15-1-0-2, 32 points) lead atop the division is a healthy one — 10 points beyond the Ghostriders (10-5-0-2, 22 points).
Last season, the Ghostriders claimed the first contest of the season in a 2-1 nail biter, but it was the Dynamiters getting the last laugh by ousting Fernie from the KIJHL post-season in six games.
Though the circumstance in the standings may be a bit different from last season at this time, the make up and approach of both teams remains quite the same in many ways.
“They’ve got a strong power play and their scoring seems to be coming from a few people that are obviously very good players,” Bancks said of the Ghostriders. “We’ve got to be ready for a tough game.
“I know they can put the puck in the net. They’ve got [Jeff] Orser back in goal, so they’ve got good goaltending. It will be good. I’m looking forward to it.”
Orser (6-6-0, 3.05 GAA, .917 SP) continues to backstop the Ghostriders as he did last season en route to winning Eddie Mountain Division Goaltender of the Year honours.
Centre Cole Keebler (19-18-37) remains and this year carries the captaincy while fuelling the offense.
In Kimberley, goaltender Tyson Brouwer (11-2-0, 1.38 GAA, .950 SP) is putting forth a season that will no doubt see him in conversation for Eddie Mountain Division Goaltender of the Year.
Captain Jason Richter (15-13-28) continues to lead the offensively-gifted Dynamiters, though his presence in the lineup remains in question heading into Friday’s contest as he deals with an upper-body injury.
Forward Brodie Buhler, acquired from the Revelstoke Grizzlies in early October, is expected to make his long-awaited Dynamiters debut.
After Friday’s tilt in Fernie, the Dynamiters and Ghostriders next meeting comes Friday, Nov. 20 at the Kimberley Civic Centre.