The Kootenay International Junior Hockey Leauge is back for another season as the Fernie Ghostriders and Golden Rockets play the first preseason game on Wednesday.
Golden is set to play six preseason games over the next two weeks, the most of any team in the Eddie Mountain Division, while Fernie will be playing their first of four.
Fernie had a strong 2018/19 season, reaching the Eddie Mountain Division Final before getting swept by the Kimberley Dynamiters. Returning a few veterans, the Ghostriders will have a number of new faces on the roster this coming season as they look to take the next step and reach the Kootenay Conference Final and beyond.
“We look like we’re going to be a younger team this year. We got a good core group of veteran guys back that are really setting the tone and then we have some good young recruits that we ended up signing over the offseason that have also assisted in pushing that pace in main camp and we like what we see so far,” Jeff Wagner told MyEastKootenayNow.com, Head Coach and General Manager of the Ghostriders.
Jordon Kromm and Nikolas Sombrowski are two notable veterans that should return to the team this year as Kromm led the Ghostriders with 54 points (22G, 32A) last season and will be a key piece for Fernie moving forward. A local rookie last year, Sombrowski will enter his second season with his hometown team after putting up 33 points (15G, 18A) in 40 games.
Wagner said there are a still a lot of decisions to make with some players at Junior A, but he adopts the perspective that they won’t be returning to the Ghostriders and will need to a field a strong team with who he has right now.
“We have a couple spots to fill and we want to make sure that we’re making the right decisions, and what better way to evaluate than getting them into game action and giving them a couple of games at least.”
“We thought about the way we want to play and certain things that we look for when we’re evaluating our players and then you let them go and just basically make their bed for themselves,” added Wagner. “We’ll give them a couple of pointers along the way as we’re in games and in practices but for the most part, early on in the season, you just want to see how they assert themselves in our league.”
The Fernie Ghostriders open their preseason on the road at 7:30 pm on Wednesday against the Golden Rockets, as they will look to make cuts to the final roster ahead of their KIJHL season opener in Nelson on Friday, September 13th.