The Fernie Ghostriders weren’t about to allow the Kimberley Dynamiters to stroll into the Fernie Memorial Arena and steal two consecutive games to open the Eddie Mountain Division final.
The Ghostriders delivered in Game 2 Monday night, tying the best-of-seven series 1-1 following a 5-2 victory.
“Game 1, emotions were running high. We were all kind of getting on each other and we weren’t playing the kind of hockey we know we can play,” Ghostriders forward Aaron Neufeld told Sara Moulton of the Fernie Free Press. “We lost our home-ice advantage, so [Monday] we just looked to come in and be calm, not let our emotions run high. Stay even keel. Just play the hockey we know we can play and we showed it.”
Neufeld, a 20-year-old native of Calgary, led the charge for the Ghostriders, opening the scoring with a power-play goal in the first period and adding an insurance marker at even strength to make it 4-2 midway through the third period.
The third-year Ghostrider added an assist on Taylor Sincennes’ game-winning goal with 3:45 remaining in the second period to round out a three-point performance.
Neufeld sits third in KIJHL playoff scoring with four goals and 11 points following Monday’s effort.
After Neufeld’s opening tally, the Dynamiters responded with two quick goals of their own as James Jowsey and Braden Saretsky scored 55 seconds apart to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
Saretsky’s tally came on the man advantage, while Jowsey’s occurred with the teams skating four-on-four.
“Our power play has been hot all playoffs. I know we’ve been working hard at it in practice and I guess it’s paying off,” Saretsky said. “[Assistant coach Jeff] Keiver runs a great power play and we just execute it.”
Neufeld wasn’t the only Ghostrider to register a two-goal night as forward Joel Burgess had himself a two-goal performance in Game 2 as well.
The 20-year-old native of Jaffray knotted the game 2-2 midway through the second period before firing a laser of a shot past the glove of Nitros goaltender Brody Nelson late in the third period to ice a 5-2 victory.
“Our big thing in pre-game tonight was a controlled emotion and without the puck, you can’t be a spectator,” Ghostriders head coach and general manager Craig Mohr told Moulton. “You’ve got to move. You’ve got to jump. You’ve got to support the puck. I thought we started to do a better job of it and as the game went on, I thought we did a better and better job of it.
“They’re quick and they work hard. If you’re standing around watching, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Making his first start of the 2015 KIJHL post-season with Tyson Brouwer (day-to-day) unavailable due to a lower-body injury, Nelson turned aside 24 of the 29 shots sent his way.
At the other end of the rink, Ghostriders goaltender Jeff Orser proved why he was the Eddie Mountain Division goaltender of the year, steering aside 27 shots, including a couple key saves in tight late in the third period.
“He wasn’t going to let them score,” Mohr said. “When you’ve got that back there, he just makes saves at big periods of the game.”
With time winding down emotions began to boil over between the two rival clubs. The extra curricular activities led to a handful of penalties against Joel Burgess, Dylan Robertson and Coy Prevost, but nothing that will keep the trio out of Game 3.
“It’s probably going to get even more emotional,” said Nitros captain Jason Richter. “We’ve obviously had a rivalry with them for so long. Even during the season we’ve had some serious battles with them. It’s always been a hate-hate thing between us.”
The series shifts to the Kimberley Civic Centre for Games 3 and 4, Wednesday and Friday, respectively. Puck drop both nights is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“Bancksy’s a hell of a coach and he’s got them playing real well,” Mohr said of Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks. “This is going to be one hell of a fun series. Both teams are playing so hard. Guys are playing hurt and they’re coming off the ice grimacing.
“Fernie-Kimberley — it’s beautiful. It’s playoff hockey.”
Game 5 goes Saturday night back at the Fernie Memorial Arena at 7:30.
Kimberley Dynamiters goaltender Brody Nelson gets low to stone Fernie Ghostriders captain Dylan Robertson during second-period action at the Fernie Memorial Arena Monday night. Robertson and the Ghostriders got the last laugh in Game 2 with a 5-2 victory to even the best-of-seven series 1-1. Sara Moulton Photo/Fernie Free Press