Castlegar’s Bantam Rep battled Nelson all weekend but succumbed to a disappointing loss at the end of the best-of-three series.
Coach Grant Pilla said the first game saw a Castlegar lead of 3-2 after the first period but penalty issues and “a lot of emotion throughout the bench and stands proved too much for the kids to overcome.”
Castlegar ended up losing 9-4.
The boys were back in Castlegar for game two. Pilla said he believes it was a game the team won’t soon forget, after falling behind twice during the game.
“At the end of the second we were down 6-3 and under normal circumstance I would have thought the boys could not come back, but their attitude in the change room and on the ice was that of a group of boys who decided they were not going to quit, but instead had nothing to lose and that they would leave it all on the ice,” Pilla said. “We outscored Nelson in 4-1 in the third to tie the game 7-7 and force game three back in Nelson.”
Pilla said during game two, the arena’s environment was “electric” and the support from the crowd was huge.
“I was very proud of the team,” he said.
In the third game, back in Nelson, Castlegar was up 3-0 by the end of the first period.
“Some penalties and a determined Nelson team lead to Nelson tying the game 3-3,” Pilla said. “We battled back and went up 4-3 to have Nelson tie the game 4-4 less than a minute later.”
In the third period, Pilla said Nelson went ahead with a 5-4 victory and the Castlegar team wasn’t able to take the lead again.
Pilla said even with the tough losses, he’s extremely proud of the way the boys played.
“We were the underdogs going in and the players dug deep to represent themselves, their team and their association well, which at the end of it all that’s all that really matters even though it’s tough to lose when you have tried so hard,” he said. “Once again the fan support was unbelievable and I would personally like to thank those that took the time to make up the signs and make all that noise. A special thanks to the group of fans from the high school that helped make these playoffs something the boys won’t soon forget.”
The season isn’t over yet, though.
March will see the team travel to Spokane for exhibition games, and some players are planning to try out for the U16 team in April.