The Castlegar Rebels clinched a spot in this season’s playoffs with their 13th win in a row on Saturday night.
The Rebels defeated the Spokane Braves at the Castlegar complex, extending their winning streak, but ending their run of shutouts.
Tanner Douglas shut out the Creston Valley Thunder Casts on Dec. 20 and Curt Doyle shut out the Grand Forks Bruins on Dec. 22, but fresh off the Christmas break Doyle wasn’t able to keep the streak going on Saturday.
Nonetheless his save percentage for the game was still 0.933 (his save percentage for the season is .924 after 18 games).
The Rebels’ Reid Wilson scored the first goal of the game less than two minutes into the first period, assisted by Chris Breese.
The team’s second goal came in the last three minutes of the period — scored by Edward Lindsey, who is first in the league for points, and assisted by Tanner Costa and Jordan Wood.
The Rebels ended the period up two and continued to find the net in the second.
Team captain Vince Bitonti scored two goals in the second — the first assisted by Jesse Belley and Wilson, the second assisted by John Moeller and Brady Daniels.
Moeller scored the Rebels’ fifth goal of the game, assisted by Lindsey and Bitonti, at 5:11 in the second and at that point the Braves subbed in backup goalie Ben Waslaski in place of Trevor Dilauro.
The second period ended following a brawl between the Rebels’ Tanner Costa and the Braves’ Andrew Clark.
Costa received a crosscheck to the face and retaliated, pushing Clark to the ice and delivering several blows; Clark fought back and two of the officials had to dog pile on top of them to try to break it up. Even pinned under two officials, Costa managed to deliver a few more blows. When he was finally forced off Clark, he skated away grinning.
Both Costa and Clark received two ten-minute game misconducts and five minutes for fighting. Costa also received two minutes for instigator and two minutes for aggressor.
Following the game, Rebels head coach and general manager Bill Rotheisler wasn’t sure whether or not Costa would be suspended from the Rebels’ Sunday night game, but suspected he wouldn’t be, since they were Costa’s first instigator and aggressor calls.
With the Rebels short a man for four minutes, Braves defenseman Mark Oestreich took advantage of the power play at the beginning of the third and, assisted by Cooper Schroder and Tyson Feist, scored the Braves first goal.
But shortly afterward, the Braves’ Ian McIntosh took a penalty for tripping and Breese scored a power play goal, assisted by Lindsey and Ren Mason, making the score 6-1.
The Braves’ Trail Thompson scored one more goal for his team in the second half of the third, assisted by Kyle Donaldson and Aaron Morris, but it wasn’t enough to catch up with the Rebels and Castlegar claimed victory with a score of 6-2.
“I liked that we won. I thought we were fortunate that Doyle had the game that he did; I thought he played excellent,” said Rotheisler. “And I thought as far as the controlling of the play, I thought it was more even.”
Rotheisler explained that some of the Rebels were on the ice for the first time following the Christmas break, as the weather prevented them from attending practices earlier in the week.
“With the weather and everything, we had guys that literally that was their first ice session for a couple of them,” he said. “Even though our report date was a couple of days ago. But the guys who were here had good ice times.”
As for the team’s 13-game winning streak, Rotheisler was happy, but realistic.
“It’s such a cliché, but we really don’t get into that. We’re excited, obviously, and we want to keep it going, but we know that we will inevitably lose a game and we need to prepared for that as well,” he said. “We just want to play well.”
The Rebels are first in the Neil Murdoch Division with 50 points. The Nelson Leafs are three points behind, but had played 31 games to the Rebels 33.
Castlegar’s next game is Sunday against the Grand Forks Border Bruins in Grand Forks at 6 p.m.