For the second straight season the Nelson Leafs and FernieGhostriders will meet in the KIJHL semi-finals. With the end of the Smoke Eaters season we at Mountain FM will continue our commitment to local hockey by picking up the broadcasts of Nelson's road games in this series and any other future series should they advance past Fernie. That won't be an easy task.
Nelson and Fernie have been the two most dominant teams in recent KIJHL history. As I said they met in last year's KIJHL semi-finals and the 2007 KIJHL finals. The Leafs knocked the Ghorstriders out of the playoffs last season ending their run of two consecutive KIJHL championships. The Leafs went on to win the league title themselves. It was revenge for Nelson after Fernie came from down 2-0 to win the 2007 series between the two clubs. Between them they have won the last 3 league crowns.
It's also an interesting match up for Smokies fans for a number of reasons. For one, former Smoke Eater Scott Jago is one of Nelson's key veterans. Trail had APs on both teams as well. The Leafs supplied Gavin Currie, Michael Spring, Phil Patenaude, Bennett Hambrook and Taylor O'Neil to the Smokies at various times. Fernie sent Jesse Niemi and KeananPatershuk to Trail during the year. All of those APs made solid contributions to Trail's line-up including a 5 point weekend for Niemi. Finally, there are alumni from both teams on the Trail roster. Garrett Beckwith and Tommy Rizzardo are former Leafs while Josh McEwan and assistant coach Brian Youngson are former Ghostriders.
How do the two teams match up? It's hard to say. However, Fernie has breezed through the first two rounds of the playoffs while Nelson has had very difficult seven game wars with Beaver Valley and Spokane. You would have to think with only one day off between game 7 against Spokane and game 1 against Fernie that the Ghostriders will have a physical edge to start the series. Of course sometimes the team that is just coming off a series win could have a momentum edge over a team that has been resting for close to a week. We'll see how it goes! Should be very interesting tomorrow night on Mountain FM. If you're feeling adventurous you could even jump in your car and head up to Fernie for the game. I hear the atmosphere there is terrific and I know I'm looking forward to it.
Thanks again to the Leafs for letting me tag along and to the Ghostriders for accommodating me at the rink so that we can bring this coverage to Kootenay Boundary airwaves. Game time tomorrow night is 6:30 with the pre-game show getting started at 6:15.