In an exciting first round of the KIJHL 2015-16 playoffs the Castlegar Rebels gave the up and coming Grand Forks Border Bruins acompetitive opposition to overcome. It took six games in a best of seven series for the Grand Forks team to outplay and eventually out-perform the Rebels to win the series 4-2.
The playoff series started in Castlegar on Feb. 23 where the Rebels took the first game but lost the second game the following day, stillon home ice. The series moved to Grand Forks for two games where the victories were split between the two teams. Both games went intoovertime. The first game erupted with a combined total of 86 shots; keeping both team’s goalies as busy as bees.
The series returned to Castlegar for game five on Leap Day, Feb. 29. Before a filled arena of exuberant fans the Bruins and Rebels battledon the ice. It was a tight game where both team’s defences allowed a minimum of plays to reach the net. No goals were scored in the firstperiod.
In the second period, Chris Breese put the first goal in the net for the Rebels at 9:30 p.m. on the clock on a power play. The Bruinsresponded within a minute, scoring to tie up the game.
The second period was marred by some unsportsmanlike behaviour. The Bruins’ Garrett Brisebois received a penalty for head contact andwas given a game misconduct. This was an offence caught by the referees. It was what was not seen by the referees that was much moredisturbing. In a melee of roughing the Rebels’ star defenceman, Nick Headrick was caught on the bottom of a pileup of players. Seen onlyby a few was the Bruins’ Bryson Yee boxing, with a shaft of a hockey stick in a gauntleted hand, Headrick’s head helmet-less against theice with five or six players on top of him. This occurred behind the Castlegar net, hidden from view except to a few, including aphotographer who caught this on camera.
To his credit, Headrick defended himself the best he could, and shook the incident off to continue to play his awesome style of hockey.Earlier in the game, Headrick had been awarded the KIJHL award for top defenceman in the league.
In the third period the Rebels got stuck in their old rut of penalties. The Bruins scored five minutes into the third period on a power playwith a goal by Dylan Haney assisted by Anthony Galliart and Austin Dean. With two minors being served partially simultaneously halfwaythrough the period, the Rebels were put on the defence.
The Rebels still outshot the Bruins in the third period 11-9, but were not able to pass the puck past the Bruins’ goalie, Anthony Galliart.Galliart, who was given the top goalie award for the Neil Murdoch division, played outstandingly throughout the series, and this periodwas no exception.
The Rebels pulled their goalie Logan Sawka with over a minute remaining to gain the one man advantage, but the Bruins took theadvantage to score on the empty net. To top off the Rebels’ loss, star rookie and top league scorer Tayden Woods was given a gamemisconduct for head contact with six seconds left in the game. This prevented him from joining his teammates for the final game thefollowing day, which the Bruins took handily to win 6-1 and clinch the series.
The top player of the series and the Bruins’ player with the most integrity was their goalie Anthony Galliart. The Kansas native was on awinning season. He spoke after game five and was asked why the Rebels were unable to score except for one goal.
“My defence was doing a really good job of clearing those rebounds and I was tracking the puck real good today so it’s all good.”
And “all good” is how things are going for Mr. Galliart as the Border Bruins move to the Neil Murdoch Division finals against Beaver Valleythis Saturday, March 5.