The Castlegar Rebels pushed their KIJHL record to 3-1 after two lopsided weekend wins. The Rebs went into Grand Forks and crushed the Border Bruins 9-2 on Friday and then came home and defeated the Kelowna Chiefs 4-1 in a Sunday afternoon tilt.
“We’re happy to score some goals,” said Rebel coach Steve Junker. “Anytime you’re getting two wins on a weekend that can’t be all bad.”
It didn’t take long on Friday in Grand Forks for the Rebels to establish their dominance over the struggling Border Bruins. Goals from Anthony Delong, Connor Bowen, and Nolan Kinney put the visiting Rebels up 3-0 after one period.
“We knew what we had to do,” said Castlegar winger Diego Bartlett. “We had to play our own game coming off the weekend before where we lost our home opener.”
Castlegar got the next four goals, including three power play markers, to go up 7-0 with 6:06 left in the second stanza. Scoring for the Rebels were Tyler Robinson, Stuart Walton, Erik Alden, and Brayden Horcoff. Grand Forks finally got on the board at 5:47 on the second with Paul Herringer scoring. Arthur Andrews finished out the second period scoring, giving Castlegar a commanding 8-1 lead after two periods.
The teams each scored once in the third period with Herringer scoring his second for the Bruins and Brenden Heinrich scoring for the Rebs.
“I think we had nine different scorers. So that’s always good when you can pull that off,” said Junker. “We got to try some different line combinations. We were fortunate we came out strong in that game.”
Against Kelowna on Sunday afternoon, the Rebels started strong and never let up. Stuart Walton, unassisted, scored first against the Chiefs to put Castlegar up 1-0 in the first period.
The Rebels than exploded for three unanswered goals in the second period to put the game away.
Anthony Delong scored the second goal of the game, also unassisted, at 11:15 of the second period with a nifty breakaway deke before sliding the puck past Chief netminder Connor Wilkinson.
Tyler Robinson put the Rebs up 3-1 by putting away a rebound from teammate Braydon Horcoff. Also picking up an assist on the play was Bryce Eviston.
The Rebels fourth and final goal was scored by Dylan Houle on the power play. Houle beat Wilkinson with a nice wrist shot to the top corner. Assisting on the play were Eviston and Erik Alden.
“We wanted to get more shots on net,” said Bartlett, who is in his second year with the squad. “When we did that we were able to generate more offence for our wingers in front.”
Kelowna’s only goal on the play was a short-handed marker by Kirk Reeve at 11:02 of the third period.
“We tried to jump on them early,” said Junker. “They were playing there third game in three nights. They have an older, more veteran line-up than us. We tried to use our youth and try to generate some speed and jump on them as quick as we could. We were able to carry that through.”
The second year coach was pleased with his team’s goaltending on Sunday.
“I thought Alex Ross played really well for us in net,” said Junker.
This weekend the Rebels host two home games at the Castlegar Community Complex: Friday against the Kimberley Dynamiters and Saturday against the Osoyoos Coyotes, the team that knocked the Rebs out of last year’s play-offs.
“I think their will be a lot of emotion involved,” said Junker. “But at the same time we’re taking every game one at a time and not try to look too far ahead. All the games are big right now. We’re trying to implement our system and get everybody on the same page and working together. But of course for the Saturday game [against Osoyoos], especially for the guys who were with us last year – it’ll have a little bit more special meaning.”
Kimberley is in second place in the Kootenay Conference’s Eddie Mountain Division with three wins and one tie. The Nitros sit two points of first right behind Fernie.
Osoyoos is also off to a decent start with a 3-2 record and are tied for second place in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference’s Okanagan Division.
“We’ve got two big games this weekend,” said Bartlett. “We’ll be working hard all week preparing for them. We want to play our game. I know the guys in the room would love a win over Osoyoos.”