The Kimberley Dynamiters and Fernie Ghostriders put on another exciting show Monday night, but a 2-1 Ghostriders win was overshadowed by a scary incident late in the third period of play at Fernie Memorial Arena.
With less than five minutes to play, Dynamiters forward Jared Marchi went heavily into the boards in the corner of the offensive zone and did not get up.
At least 10 minutes elapsed while Marchi was tended to by trainers and players from both teams, paramedics, firefighters, and Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks.
“I hate it when anybody gets injured,” Bancks said following the game. “Jared is the heart and soul of this team.”
Marchi moved his arms and hands, but was kept mostly still as responders braced him and eventually placed him on a stretcher before he was taken via ambulance to Elk Valley Hospital in Fernie.
As Marchi was being taken off the ice on the stretcher, Bancks walked alongside and with a smile on his face, had a quick word with his 19-year-old alternate captain.
“We kind of have an inside running joke, so I can’t tell you what that was,” Bancks said with a laugh. “It’s just something to let him know how much I care and appreciate [him]. I thanked him for his effort, which I’ve had for two years now.”
Following the completion of the game, the Dynamiters visited Marchi at Elk Valley Hospital. According to Bancks, Marchi suffered no fractured vertebrae, but did sustain muscle and ligament damage in his neck. He was set to spend the night in hospital and will be reassessed Tuesday morning.
“I couldn’t ask to be surrounded by any better people than I already am!” Marchi tweeted following the game. “Thanks for everything! #Teammates #brothers #family”
Despite the intense rivalry that exists between the Ghostriders and Dynamiters, Monday’s incident provided proof that a certain brotherhood does exist within the game of hockey, even though it may not seem that way when Kimberley and Fernie meet.
“It’s scary to see that stuff,” said Ghostriders forward Justin Peers. “You don’t want it to happen to anyone, even if it is the opposite team.”
Ghostriders forward Derek Georgopoulos, a Cranbrook native, grew up playing minor hockey alongside Marchi, a Kimberley native. Even though the two now suit up on opposite sides of a heated Eddie Mountain Division rivalry, Monday’s events show a certain respect remains.
“Hockey kind of takes a back seat,” Georgopoulos said after the game.
“I didn’t even know what to do. I don’t even know what to say right now. It was obviously an accidental play. I didn’t even see what happened, I just saw him go down.”
Georgopolous was one of the Ghostriders players who helped tend to Marchi, skating a spinal board from the bench to where his former minor hockey teammate was situated on the ice.
“I looked into his eyes and it was just sheer panic,” Georgopoulos said. “It was honestly one of the worst moments of my hockey career. It was terrifying.”
After Marchi had been taken off the ice, both teams still had nearly five minutes of hockey to play in the third period of an immensely important game in which the score was 2-1.
“We’re all worried about him. We’re all scared, obviously,” said Dynamiters captain Jason Richter Monday night.
“We still have a job to do. When it comes down to it, we’re still trying to win the game and play for him.”
Richter and the Dynamiters pressed as the clock wound down in the third period, but the tying goal never came as the Ghostriders held on for a 2-1 victory.
Georgopoulos scored the opening goal of the game, while Peers tallied midway through the second period with what stood as the eventual game-winning marker.
In a light moment following Peers’ goal, a rooster was sent flying out onto the playing surface at Fernie Memorial Arena.
“That chicken, that’s something I’ve never experienced before,” Peers said after the game.
“I thought the refs would [pick up the chicken] but they were scared of him. They were telling me to go get the chicken. So I went and grabbed it. It was squirming around. I’m pretty sure it pooped on my pants.”
Braden Saretsky responded for the Dynamiters with a power-play goal in the third period moments before Marchi went down in the corner.
Monday’s helter-skelter game wrapped up a 10-day period in which the Dynamiters and Ghostriders went head-to-head three times. After the Nitros grabbed a 4-2 victory at home Dec. 20, the Ghostriders claimed back-to-back victories — 6-4 Sunday in Kimberley and 2-1 Monday in Fernie.
Ghostriders goaltender Jeff Orser made 33 saves for the win, while Tyson Brouwer was sharp all night for the Dynamiters, turning aside 27 pucks at the other end of the rink.
A total of 1,140 fans took in Monday night’s contest, including a fan bus, which travelled all the way from Kimberley with Dynamiters fans.
Apart from Marchi, the Dynamiters also lost defenceman James Jowsey to a concussion. Jowsey suffered the injury in the third period after being on the receiving end of a high hit from Ghostriders captain Dylan Robertson, who was penalized for elbowing on the play.
Marchi and Jowsey join a long list of injured Dynamiters. That list already includes , defenceman Jonas Gordon (upper body, week to week), forward Sawyer Hunt (upper body, week to week), forward Marco Campanella (lower body, four to six weeks), forward Jordan Roy (collar bone, four to six weeks) and defenceman Tristan Pagura (upper body, indefinite). Trevor Van Steinburg (undisclosed) also did not play Monday.
The Dynamiters (18-14-1-3, 40 points) and Ghostriders (26-5-1-2, 55) will resume their Eddie Mountain Division rivalry Jan. 9 at the Fernie Memorial Arena.
Until then, the Dynamiters’ next action comes Jan. 2 when they visit the Columbia Valley Rockies (6-23-0-6, 18), while the Ghostriders are set to suit up Dec. 31 with a New Year’s Eve tilt in Creston against the Thunder Cats (16-13-1-3, 36).