With the Castlegar Rebels heading into the winter break and the season about two thirds of the way through, it’s high time for an in-depth look at the team.
Comparisons to last year’s league runner-up would seem inevitable; however, I arrived in Castlegar in July so I didn’t get to see last year’s Rebel run up close. In addition, whilst I think the players who moved on from last year’s team should be remembered and honoured, this is a new team and the returning players all have different roles than last year.
GOAL – The addition of Jordan Gluck has really solidified the goaltender position for the Rebels, giving the team two strong choices in net along with Connor Beauchamp. Alex Ross played well last year for the team from what I’ve heard, but never really got going this year. The trade of Ross for Gluck looks like a gutsy move that’s paying off. Beauchamp is fourth among KIJHL goalies in goals against average with 2.67 so far, while Gluck is seventh at 2.74. The two have nearly identical save percentages: Gluck 0.903, Beauchamp 0.900 Grade: B
DEFENCE – The veteran tandem of Tyler Jones and captain Erik Alden has played well. Jones leads all defencemen with 20 points in 33 games, while Alden is close behind with 19 points in 32 games. Youngsters like Bryce Eviston and Daylen Pearson are continuing to improve and add a physical presence to the blue line.
The loss of Joren Johnson to the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters and recent injuries/suspensions have exposed the Rebels’ lack of depth. Adding another solid defenceman must certainly be on Coach/General Manager Steve Junker’s Christmas wish list. Grade: C+
FORWARDS – With Scott Morisseau, the KIJHL’s scoring champion from last year, hitting the ice and hitting his stride after a shoulder injury, the Rebels are looking strong and deep up front. Morisseau was acquired in the summer from Fernie, but missed the first two months of the season after off-season shoulder surgery. Teamed on a line with veterans Arthur Andrews and Stuart Walton, Morisseau gives the team a scoring and passing presence.
The “other” top line of Anthony Delong, Tyler Robinson, and Peter Mingus may have slowed down recently, but are still capable of lighting up the scoreboard.
Castlegar’s “young guns” third line of Brenden Heinrich, Diego Bartlett, and Kody Disher has stepped up recently offensively and are always solid on the defensive end. GRADE: A-
SPECIAL TEAMS – The Rebs power play is really starting to click with the return of Morisseau. The penalty kill seems to give up too many easy chances. Another big presence on the back end would be a definite bonus. GRADE: B-
INTANGIBLES – As general manager, Steve Junker has done a solid job bringing in the pieces that the Rebels need to make another run at the KIJHL championship. On the coaching side, Junker and assistants Jesse Dorrans, Bruno Tassone and Darcy Martini always seem to get the players ready to play hard.
As for the crowds, I’d like to see a few more bums in the seats. When Nelson or Beaver Valley is in the town, the old barn is rocking. It’d be nice to see those kind of crowds at every home game. GRADE: A-
OVERALL: The Rebels are playing stronger over the last couple of weeks, as witnessed by their 8-win, 1-loss, 1-tie record over the last ten games. Of course, the gold standard this year is the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. The ‘Hawks are 27-5-0 this year and have won their last 13 games. A home and home on Dec. 29 and 30 will go a long way to see how far away the Rebels are away from the deep and talented Nitehawks. OVERALL GRADE: A-