Before heading into the playoffs on Friday, the Castlegar Rebels celebrated their regular season on Thursday night.
The Rebels’ Awards Banquet and Dinner was an opportunity for the coaching staff to acknowledge the work put in by the players over the season — on and off the ice — but also a chance for the organization to recognize its coaching staff, trainers, bus driver, volunteers, executive board, billets, sponsors, parents and fans.
While Mike Johnstone, president of the Castlegar Rebels, gave a shout out to all of the coaching staff — head coach and general manager Bill Rotheisler, assistant general manager Parker Hickey, and assistant coach Angus Campbell — there was a special thank you for assistant coach JR Ross.
“To our Jack of All Trades, as we like to call him, JR Ross,” Johnstone said, eliciting applause. “Nobody puts in more time for this organization than JR. He’s there at seven o’clock in the morning washing jerseys; you can go there at 11 o’clock — I’m getting emotional JR — at night and he’s sharpening skates. We cannot thank you for everything you do for us JR,” he finished with emotion in his voice.
Rotheisler also gave Ross a special acknowledgement.
“It’s hard to fathom the amount of work he puts in,” he said. “And when Mike says that nobody works harder, I’m a full-time employee and that’s including myself. So JR, I thank you so much for doing everything as part of that.”
Team captain Vince Bitonti also had a special word for Ross.
“JR, you’re the biggest help to this team. I hope you stay around for a long time,” he said.
Johnstone and Rotheisler also both acknowledged that this season has had its rough spots, but said that overall it’s been great.
“It’s been a great season so far,” said Johnstone. “There’s been a couple of bumps in the road, but we’ve all sort of stuck together as a team and weathered the storm.”
“This season so far has been a great one. Ups and downs and included some rough patches, but also some other amazing things like, obviously, the Rebels record 14-game winning streak — further showing that once our team gets on a roll, they’re tough to stop.”
And both looked forward to the playoffs with optimism.
“As a coach, we play tomorrow, and you try not to get too excited or pump the tires too much, but at the end of the day … I don’t know if I believed in a group to win that championship as much as I believe in this group here and you guys that we have today,” said Rotheisler.
Castlegar Rebels Awards
Top scorer — Edward Lindsey
Most popular player, as voted by the fans — Shawn Campbell
Most popular player, as voted on by his peers — Jordan Wood
Best student-athlete — Reid Wilson
Sportsmanship — Shawn Campbell
Most inspirational player — Ren Mason
Team Player Award — Andrew Petten
Gerry Lacasse Memorial Trophy — Curt Doyle
Most improved player — Jordan Wood
Rookie of the year — Brady Daniels
Top defenseman — Vince Bitonti
Top forward — Chris Breese
Most valuable player — Tanner Douglas