The Castlegar Rebels had a hard road ahead of them if they were going to defeat the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Tuesday night, and sadly for Rebels fans, the boys weren’t up to the task.
The Rebels went into Tuesday night’s game against the division-leading team 1-5 in the series against them, and right from the start things went bad for Castlegar.
Nitehawks’ No. 26 Jaxen Gemmell scored less than a minute into the first period, putting the Rebels behind right off the bat. Then less than three minutes later No. 18 for the Nitehawks, Mitch Foyle, scored.
Vince Bitonti, Rebels’ No. 5, managed to get a shot in with an assist from No. 3 Logan Styler and No. 13 John Moeller, but it was the only point the Rebels would score the whole game.
The Nitehawks scored twice more before the end of the first, but it was during the second period that things really went bad for the Rebels. Bitonti and No. 10 Brandon Costa both took penalties and the Nitehawks took advantage, scoring on both power plays.
It got worse in the third. The Rebels took a total of five penalties — one a 10-minute misconduct taken by No. 26 Chase Daniels. They held off the Nitehawks as best they could, but Blake Sidoni, No. 28 for the Nitehawks, found the net during one of the power plays , and the game ended 7-1 for the Nitehawks.
Following the game, head coach and GM Bill Rotheisler said he was embarrassed.
“It was embarrassing. From how we handled ourselves, to our preparation for this game, to pretty much almost every aspect out there,” he said. “You know it’s one thing to lose, you get beat, but Beaver Valley is a team that hasn’t seen us play. I mean I don’t know how else to say it other than they’ve seen us come to the ice, but they have no idea who the Castlegar Rebels are.”
Asked how the Rebels can stay out of the penalty box in the future, Rotheisler said, “I think we got pretty frustrated and … the talk we just had with the boys is about being mentally strong. At the beginning of the year we used the excuse of having a young team, but we’re sitting here and it’s February now, and it’s not an excuse any more.”
At this point in the regular season the Spokane Braves have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, ensuring the Rebels a spot. But the Nitehawks are top of the division by a wide margin, and chances are that if the Rebels want to make it as far as the conference finals, they will have to make it through the Nitehawks.
“We go through a ton of video and we go through a ton of preparation, but we’ve gone through that same ton of preparation and video to get to this point, and it doesn’t matter how much video you watch, you gotta compete and you gotta have the whole will and determination thing,” Rotheisler said. “When we make it to that point, we will be most likely facing Beaver Valley and we got a job to do. But by any means, we won’t accept how we’ve been playing and not by any means do we accept that we wouldn’t be good enough to take them in a series.”
The Rebels also faced the Braves over the weekend, defeating them 7-3 at home on Friday and 3-2 in Spokane on Saturday.