Pre-season games may not count in the standings at the end of the year, but wins are wins and early success is often a harbinger of later success.
The Rebels won three of four games and tied the other in the pre-season, beating Nelson 6-3 on Wednesday at home, beating Nelson 8-2 on the road, tying Beaver Valley 3-3 on Saturday at home, and beating Beaver Valley on the road 4-3 on Sunday.
“Obviously, we have lots to work on. That’s what pre-season’s for. We saw lots of good things and lots of not so good things,” said Rebel head coach Steve Junker. “Weren’t not expecting guys to know exactly how we want to play just yet. That’s what we’re trying to work on, while at the same time trying to evaluate players and find out who we want on the hockey club.”
The coaching staff has made some personnel decisions after the pre-season games and the team is preparing for their regular season opener Friday at home against Nelson.
“There’s still some decisions that need to be made but for the most part we know what we are going to be rolling with,” said Junker.
The Rebels are still waiting for some possible cuts from Junior A camps that will help bolster the squad.
“I think there’s always some adjustments that you’re trying to make. You’re trying to make a good hockey club and I think we will be a good hockey club it’s just a matter of fine tuning it and making sure we’re heading into it with the right people.
On Sunday, the Rebels played a hard fought game in Fruitvale against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, winning 4-3.
Castlegar struck first with Evan Ritchie netting a power play goal at 17:30 of the first period assisted by Riley Ostoforoff and Corbin Legros.
Craig Martin tied the game up at 9:57 of the first for Beaver Valley. Ryan Edwards scored with a minute left in the first stanza to give the Nitehawks a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
Back to back goals in the second period put the Rebs back up. Scoring for Castlegar were Quinn Klimchuk at 16:42, assisted by Tyler Akroyd, and Aaron Brewer, who scored a power play goal at 1:49 assisted by Kody Disher and Diego Bartlett.
Bartlett put the Rebels up by two goals, 4-2, with two minutes left. Bartlett was assisted by Ostoforoff and Brendan Heinrich.
The Nitehawks drew within one with 25 seconds left as Edwards scored his second goal of the game, but it was too little, too late.
The night before, Saturday, Castlegar needed two third period goals to tie the ‘Hawks in a game played at the Castlegar Community Complex.
Beaver Valley struck first with Ryan Edwards scoring in the first period. The Rebs tied it up early in the second stanza with a goal from Arthur Andrews assisted by Peter Mingus.
The ‘Hawks then went up 3-1 with consecutive second period goals from Bryan Hinchcliffe at 11:30 and Mason Spear at 5:17.
Kody Disher brought Castlegar within one of Beaver Valley with a marker at 17:12 of the third period assisted by Evan Ritchie and Brendan Heinrich.
Tyler Robinson picked up the tying goal for the Rebs at 13:46 assisted by Tyler Jones.
“To be honest, I wasn’t really happy with our first couple of periods,” said coach Steve Junker. “But that’s kind of the way it is with exhibition, that’s the reason for it – to kind of work the kinks out and try to learn a new system with a new group of players and figure out how we like to play as a team.”
Junker was pleased, however, with the way the team fought back in the third period to tie the game up.
“I definitely thought our third period was better. Not just based on the fact that we scored some goals or that we competed,” said Junker. “Your compete level has to be there at all times.That’s one thing I’ll demand from start to finish – that our compete level is at the highest.”
The Rebels kicked off the pre-season with a pair of wins over the Nelson Leafs.
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, Castlegar started slowly in their first pre-season game of the year but eventually pulled away for a 6-3 win over the visiting Leafs.
The teams travelled to Nelson the following day for a rematch which the Rebels won soundly 8-2. Leading the way for Castlegar were Anthony Delong, who scored two goals and added two assists, Aaron Brewer, who had one goal and two helpers, and Arthur Andrews, who notched a goal and two assists as well.
Other Rebel scorers were Daylen Pearson, Bryce Eviston, Quinn Klimchuk, and Tyler Robinson.
Sharing the duties in net were Patrick Dafoe and Brenden Mills, who each let in one goal.
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