In a stand-out season for the Castlegar Rebels, two players received awards for their top in league performance. Nick Headrick receivedKIJHL Top Defenceman of the Year, and Tayden Woods received KIJHL Rookie of the Year.
The plaques were presented to the players by the KIJHL Neil Murdoch Division vice president, Larry Martel just prior to the puck drop onSunday afternoon’s last game of the regular season, Feb. 21 at the Castlegar Complex Arena. Darren Medeiros was also recognized withan award presented to him by Kathleen Zubick for his astounding first place record of 215 games played as a Rebel and his assists andpoints totals, which took second and third spot in the record books respectively.
Also given recognition were the Rebels’ veterans who are playing their final year for the Rebels. These players were: Carson Wornig, MikeBhatoa, Darren Medeiros and Nick Headrick.
The Spokane Braves won the game 5-3, scoring four times in the second period. The Braves took the game from the Rebels by playingharder than them for the first two periods. A switch in the Rebels’ goalies from their back-up Paul Broadbent to their lead goalie LoganSawka and a much more aggressive and organized playing in the third period by the Rebels got the game under their control. However bythen it was too late to overcome the four-goal lead by the Braves.
The Rebels seemed to come out initially with a lot of strength. However the Spokane team, playing their last game of the 2015-16 season,gave the game all they could. With a last place finish in the Neil Murdoch Division the Braves had absolutely nothing to lose. They werefirst on the scoreboard at 11:53 with a goal by Troy Pichette. The Rebels responded only 28 seconds later with a goal by Nick Headrick,set-up by Tayden Woods and Mike Bhatoa.
With 4:13 left in the first period the Rebels scored again. Tyler Barrett, back in the Rebels’ lineup after a multi game suspension forfighting, put the puck in the net in classic Barrett style assisted by Vince Bitonti and Ed Lindsey. With a 2-1 lead after the first period, theRebels seemed poised to win their final game of the season.
The Rebels were in their third game in three nights. They beat Grand Forks 5-4 in overtime on Friday, Feb.19 and on Saturday they tiedwith Beaver Valley 3-3 after three periods of regular play plus two periods of overtime. This should not really have been a problem. Withthe playoffs starting only two days following, each team needed to be able to withstand the pressures and physical and mental demandsthe playoffs will require. But the Rebels came out to play the second period with a visible lack of energy and cohesion.
The Spokane Braves, with their do or die attitude, quickly took advantage of the Rebels’ vulnerabilities and put four unanswered goals intothe Rebels net. In goal for the Rebels was reserve goalie Paul Broadbent. Broadbent is a recent addition to the Rebels. He was brought upfrom the USA to fill the opening left when star goalie Joseph Mcleod was bumped up to play Junior A in Prince George. He is stillstrengthening his skills. With the Braves putting more shots on net than the Rebels, coach Jesse Dorrans switched to the Rebels’ leadgoalie Logan Sawka following the third Braves goal in 13 minutes. With four minutes left in the second period the Braves put one morepast Sawka, to give them a substantial 5-2 lead.
The Rebels seemed to have their act together in the third period following their dismal second period performance. They kept the Bravesfrom scoring again and managed to put one in the Spokane net with a power play goal by Darren Medeiros assisted by Nick Headrick andEd Lindsey. The Rebels retaliation was too late in the game to overturn the Spokane lead. After the final whistle, the Castlegar Rebelsfinished their game with a set of skating callisthenics that was obviously a message from their coaches that they needed to work wayharder if they want to win.
A Rebels insider who wished to remain anonymous remarked, “They got to work a full 60 minutes. You can’t win a hockey game in oneperiod.” No Rebels players or coaches were available for comments post game.
The Rebels finished the regular season in second place in the Neil Murdoch Division of the KIJHL. They start the play-off season matchedagainst the Grand Forks Border Bruins. The first two games are on the Rebels’ home ice, this Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 23 and 24.Puck drop is at 7 p.m.