With files from Tyler Harper
After losing to the Nelson Leafs in quadruple overtime on Thursday, the Castlegar Rebels fought back on Saturday to tie the playoff series 1-1.
The Rebels’ Brandon Costa took advantage of a power play early in the first to score the first goal, assisted by Chase Daniels and Logan Styler, and from that point on the Rebels led the game. Shawn Campbell scored shortly afterwards, assisted by Styler and John Moeller. Then, Everett Hicks scored with assists by Daneel Lategan and Justin Podgorenko. It was the Rebels’ third goal of the first period with 6:54 still left on the clock.
The Leafs’ Nicholas Wihak scored shortly after and it looked as if the Leafs might be finding their footing, but they didn’t see another scoring opportunity for the rest of the match, despite the Rebels giving up six power plays overall.
The Rebels star of the game was Hicks who went on to score another two goals in the second period, including a shot that found the five hole.
“One of their d-men turned it over there, he was caught flat-footed, so I burned him and then when I got to the goalie, just a couple of head fakes and the legs opened up and just slid a five hole,” Hicks explained after the game.
The final score was 5-1.
Bill Rotheisler, general manager and head coach for the Rebels, was proud of the way his team played, though he was equally proud of their performance on Thursday.
“As I mentioned before I thought the boys played a good last game and I thought we played the same game, to be honest with you,” he said. “We made a couple of minor adjustments, but not many.”
Rotheisler said the team worked on face-offs and tightening up defence, among other things.
“We tightened up our d-zone in a couple of areas and our PK [penalty kill] — we weren’t happy with our two power play goals against,” he said. “And our offensive zone — Nelson does a good job of boxing guys out and keeping the front of their net clear, and so we had to find a way to get in there.”
Nelson head coach Mario DiBella also gave the Rebels credit for a good game.
“I think we have to give full credit to Castlegar,” he said. “When you’re in a situation where your back’s against the wall had they gone down two games to one, the series might have possibly been over. They responded like gangbusters and give them credit for that.”
The Rebels victory insured a fifth game in the series, which will take place Thursday, Mar. 2 in Castlegar.
Games two and three will be held in Nelson on Monday and Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Asked what the team needs to work on to make it through the series, Rotheisler said, “I think we spend so much time going through x’s and o’s, and trying to strategize, and us coaches trying to make too much of an impact in it sometimes. I think that sometimes hurts more than it helps. So the guys are all prepared. They’ve got all their x’s and o’s, and at this point in the series you know they know all they need to know about the team.”