Headed into Friday night’s game the Castlegar Rebels were 0-3 against the Beaver Valley Nighthawks — last year’s league champions — but by the end of the night, the home team had outplayed the champs.
The Rebels started out strong in the first period — out-shooting the Nighthawks 15-4 — but they weren’t able to find the net.
In the second period, the Nighthawks got a power play opportunity after Evan Della Paolera was sent to the penalty box for slashing and Karsten Jang, assisted by Adam Pipe and Evan Gorman, scored the first goal of the game.
But soon after the Rebels were on the powerplay, thanks to a roughing call against the Nighthawk’s Dylan Heppler, and Brandon Costa, assisted by John Moeller and Edward Lindsey, was quick to tie things up for the Rebels.
The Nighthawks did their best to battle back in the third, but the Rebels’ Chase Daniels scored an unassisted goal early in the period and held off their opponent’s best efforts until the end, winning the game 2-1.
“I thought we outplayed them,” said Rebels coach and general manager Bill Rotheisler. “It was a tight game on the scoreboard, but I thought we controlled the game for the … vast majority.”
In the end, the Rebels also out-shot the Nighthawks 33-19.
Rotheisler said getting more shots on goal is something the team has been working on.
“We tended to be a little too cute I think at the beginning of the year and probably didn’t take enough opportunities, so now going into the game we didn’t want to miss out on any shots,” he said.
Last season the Rebels finished 1-6 against the Nighthawks.
Asked if he had any specific strategy for taking on the team this year, Rotheisler said, “I don’t think we have a specific strategy just for them. We try to play our game, which sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. You go through some video of them, so some minor tweaks, but overall 95 per cent of your foundation is just on how well you’re playing. And so I just think we’re a better and more mature team than we were last year.”
The Rebels take on the Nelson Leafs in Nelson at 7 p.m. on Saturday and face the Golden Rockets at the Castlegar Complex on Sunday at 2 p.m.