A game 5 in Castlegar on Monday, April 1 was assured after the North Okanagan Knights bounced back against the Rebels with a 3 – 2 win in Armstrong in game four of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League final series on Saturday night.
The Rebels lead the series 3-1.
The Knights grabbed the first goal of the game on the power play, with defenceman Dryden Profeit beating Castlegar’s Jordan Gluck at 7:56 of the opening period. Profeit was assisted by Mat Lambert and Darien Head on the play.
The Knights struck again at 8:46 of the second, when Lambert fed Logan Mostat, who found Connor Richards. It was the fourth goal of the playoffs for Richards and could not have come at a better time for the Knights., who were facing a sweep.
Castlegar forward Darren Medeiros managed to erase any thoughts the Knights may have had about a revenge shutout (the Rebels won game three 2 – 0 the night before) and put Castlegar on the scoreboard unassisted, less than a minute after Richards’ goal.
The Knights starting goaltender was once again Dustin Nikkel, who has been outstanding through the series.
The Rebels, as has been the pattern almost the entire series, outshot the Knights badly, 38 – 13 through 40 minutes, but Nikkel has helped keep the championship series a low-scoring affair. Through five games, the Rebels have nine goals while the Knights have six.
In the third, North Okanagan’s Mat Lambert got on the score sheet for a third time, putting the Knights up 3 – 1 at 12:50, with assists from Steven Pantazopoulos and Dryden Profeit.
The Rebels put another 20 shots on Nikkel in the third and one of them, from Castlegar’s leading point-getter in the playoffs, Stuart Walton (25), finally got past him at 8:52 of the final frame.
The Rebels however, were unable to get the equalizer to send it to overtime even after a final push with Gluck out of the net briefly.
The Rebels went 0 for 4 on the power play on the night, while the Knights did one better on five chances.
Knights goaltender Dustin Nikkel was under siege by the Rebels offence all night but just two of the 58 shots he faced got past him.
Castlegar’s Jordan Gluck, meanwhile, was 17 for 20.
Nikkel has now faced 89 more shots in the post-season than Gluck
Game six, if necessary would be Wednesday, April 3 at 7 p.m. back in Armstrong at the Nor-Val Centre.
A game seven, which the Rebels have successfully navigated once so far in this year’s playoffs by beating the defending champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks, would be at home on Friday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m.