The Castlegar Rebels’ weekend started off with a very physical game against the Nelson Leafs.
The two teams were tied 1-1 at the end of the third on Saturday night and headed into overtime.
Then when Dallas Goodwin scored the game-winning goal with 0:27 left on the clock “an already ugly game then got further out of hand,” ending in a bench-clearing brawl.
Rebels head coach and general manager Bill Rotheisler said the bench-clearing on his team’s side was a standard reaction to winning in overtime.
“When a team wins in overtime, naturally a team comes out, clears their bench to celebrate, so that would be the extent of our bench-clearing, would be the best way to explain it, and then I guess for whatever reason Nelson decided that they would come out as well,” he said.
A fight ensued and a number of suspensions were handed out.
Three of those suspensions were for Rebels players.
Jesse Belley received a three-game suspension for clipping the Leafs’ goaltender and knocking him over, while Vince Bitonti and Tanner Costa received one-game suspensions for participating in the ensuing brawl.
While Leafs coach Mario DiBella shared his dissatisfaction with the game’s officiating, Rotheisler had no complaints.
“Overall I thought the officials did a pretty good job at trying to make sure that … the right guys got the right stuff,” said Rotheisler.
The Rebels’ coach also gave credit to some of the Nelson players.
“I hate to group everybody into one group. I thought there was a couple of guys — including our former player [Justin] Podgorenko — who played well and played hard, and who knew how to tow that line, but not cross it, and I just have a lot of respect for that sort of thing,” said Rotheisler.
The Rebels are 3-2 against the Leafs for the season, but the overtime win means that Nelson took a point and even with the Rebels’ win against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Sunday, the Rebels were still a point away from the top of the Neil Murdoch Division.
“But we’re trending in the right direction and we’re happy with our progress,” said Rotheisler.
Sunday’s game had its own excitement, as the Nitehawks were up 2-0 headed into the third.
But the Rebels were ready to play in the final period and Chris Breese came out to score a goal in the first minute of play, assisted by Shawn Campbell.
Breese then scored a second unassisted goal over halfway through the period and soon after Dallas Goodwin scored on a power play, assisted by Breese and Edward Lindsey.
But the Nitehawks got their own powerplay opportunity, and Sam Swanson tied things up 3-3.
The Rebels then suffered the disappointment of a waved-off goal, but Evan Della Paolera came back out and scored the winning goal seconds later.
“Despite being upset, they went and just potted the puck back in the net,” said Rotheisler.
Rotheisler credited his assistant GM and assistant coach with getting the Rebels through two tough games.
“Our assistant GM [Parker Hickey] does a great job in conjunction with [assistant coach] Angus [Campbell] to make sure that they’re monitoring the shift times and ice times that each of our players is given and they do a tremendous job at that,” he said. “The whole point of doing that is to make sure that in situations where we have two games in a short amount of time like this, that we can have energy until the end and be utilizing the advantages of our lines properly.”
He also complimented the Nitehawks on a good game.
“I thought they played a smart game, they played us tough, but it was nice to play the game today, because I thought it was well officiated and I thought it was good, clean play, but tough in the right areas from [head coach] Terry [Jones]’s team,” said Rotheisler.
The Rebels are 3-3 against the Nitehawks so far this season.
With files from Tyler Harper