The Fernie Ghostriders are excited to play in front of a home crowd for the first time in almost a year, when they face the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Saturday.
The Ghostriders stepped onto home ice on Monday for their first practice in Fernie Memorial Arena since last October. Despite it being just after 6 a.m., head coach Jeff Wagner said the boys were hooting and hollering as they made laps around the arena.
“There was a lot of positivity, obviously being back in our room was exciting for the guys,” said Wagner.
“They had a place to store their gear, and a place where they can call home and bond together as a group. Definitely an exciting experience for the boys coming back.”
Three men, Lloyd Smith, Wayne Hornquist and Jason Podloski, were all killed from an ammonia leak on Oct. 17, 2017 while trying to fix the Fernie Memorial hockey and curling arena’s ice-making equipment.
The Ghostriders played the rest of the season in Sparwood, and were cleared to return to the arena after upgrades were completed.
It was also Wagner’s first time stepping onto Fernie’s home ice, and he said it was a nice treat for everyone.
The Ghostriders boast a solid line up with a handful of Greater Trail players that include Derek Green, Owen Titus, and Ethan Jang. Fernie played their first regular season game of the year against the Spokane Braves, and won 5-4 in overtime, before falling to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 7-2.
“We knew coming in that it would be a hard fought game,” explained Wagner, further explaining that they didn’t execute their game plan even close to how they wanted to.
Coach Wagner said that their growing pains showed during this game, but they’re going to brush it off and get to work, preparing for this weekend coming up.
“We’re excited to be back in our home rink, and have our fans’ support,” said Wagner. “I think there’s a buzz in the town for hockey to come back.
“Not only that, we’re excited to have a bit more normality back in our days. Starting the year in Calgary on the ice was a bit of a wrench in our plan. But now that we’re back in our own rink we can be a bit more regimented on a day-by-day basis.”
The Ghostriders home opener goes Saturday at the Fernie Memorial Arena at 7:30 p.m.