Things looked promising at the beginning of the Castlegar Rebels’ final home game of the season.
The first period against the Grand Forks Bruins ended 2-1, with the Rebels making the most of power play opportunities, but by the end of the second it looked as if the game had turned and fans were kept on the edge of their seats as the Rebels fought back to win the game 8-6.
The second period started with the Bruins quickly tying up the game 2-2 and then a little over a minute later scoring again to gain their first lead. The Rebel’s Reid Wilson responded mid-period with his first junior hockey goal, but it was contested as a fight had broken out at the other end of the ice at the same time.
“They were mad because they felt it should have been blown down. That’s subjective — it could be right, could be wrong — but it doesn’t change the fact that there were no issues on the play, so there was nothing the ref could do,” explained head coach and GM Bill Rotheisler. “He had to call it a fair goal.”
With a decision made in the Rebels’ favour, the game was once again tied, but the Castlegar players seemed to get more frustrated as the period continued and the Bruins racked up a five-goals, putting them ahead by three.
“If this was a couple of months ago, you could almost see them getting a lot more frustrated and I think we even mentioned one time about being mentally strong and everything. They got frustrated … but they really managed to kind of pull it together,” said Rotheisler.
The team rallied, playing hard in the third period and tied things up once more with less than 10 minutes left in the game. It was Vince Bitonti who scored the goal that put the Rebels in the lead once again, but then with 2:23 left in the game, Bitonti took a penalty for interference. Down one with time running out, the Bruins pulled their goalie, giving them a two-man advantage. But the Rebels managed to kill the penalty and Bitonti came out of the box to assist Daniel Petten on the goal that effectively ended the game with 17 seconds left to go.
“We got five goals against us in the second, so we knew you could do five goals in a period,” said Rotheisler. “We’ve done five goals in a period before and they’re just a really resilient group of guys.”
The Rebels also faced the Bruins in Grand Forks on Saturday and won 6-2, putting them 6-1 against the Bruins in the series, with one final game to play against them on Friday.
But then it’s onto the playoffs where the Rebels will most likely face the Bruins in the first round, depending largely on what happens in the game between Nelson and Grand Forks on Saturday.