By Derek Kaye,
Castlegar News contributor
The Rebels absorbed a loss to the Spokane Braves Saturday night at home as playoffs loom with only five remaining regular season games. The night before in Creston had been a disheartening event with the Thunder Cats proving why they have the second best record in the league, outplaying the Rebels 8-3.
The fight to maintain their third spot in the Neil Murdoch Division of the Kootenay Conference is now even tighter with the Spokane Braves having won as many games as the Rebels, only one point behind in the standings and barking at their heels. Grand Forks trails in last spot and if they continue to do so the Rebels will be guaranteed of a playoff spot. However Grand Forks has played four fewer games than the Braves and the Rebels who have played 47 games each and are only six and seven ahead of the downtrodden Border Bruins, respectively. So anything can still happen, but only the top four spots in each division make it into the continuation of Canada’s winter sport into the warmth of spring.
The game with Spokane started positively with the Rebels Derek Georgopoulos hitting the scoreboard first at 16:56 on the clock assisted by Diego Bartlett and Aaron Brewer. The Rebels appeared confident as they skated hard and pressured the Braves with constant forechecking in their zone.
The Rebels scored again mid-way through the second period by, Aaron Petten assisted by his regular linemate Kody Disher and newcomer rookie Evan Kite. By the end of the second period Spokane was scoreless and the Rebels were ahead by two.
The Castlegar squad appeared to be tiring of the constant “A” game approach while Spokane was started to get a handle on things. The Spokane first year head coach Gary Redding would remark after the game, “Midway through the second the momentum shifted… some good smart plays, some good hard hits.” He told his team starting the third period to, “Stay out of the garbage stay out of the coincidentals, we need everybody.”
Redding put on record that, “That’s entertainment; shots were close, goalies on both sides made great saves, both teams played well could have been either way.”
Rebels Travis Wilkie and Derek Georgopoulos offered post game comments, including, “We got a few penalties at the end of the second and we killed them off but we didn’t recover. They got in our heads and we sunk down to their level.” With a few games left in the season they were adamant about winning the next games. “Every game counts, we’ve got to bounce back with Grand Forks coming up,” Wilkie said.
Georgopoulos answered, “We’ve got to really start bearing down in the slot… we gotta start putting some goals in the net.”
The Rebels play the Grand Forks Border Bruins twice next weekend; in Castlegar on Friday, February 7 and on Saturday in Grand Forks.