Game two of the KIJHL championship series between the Castlegar Rebels and the North Okanagan Knights was as much a test of will as it was a test of skill, with two overtime periods needed to secure a 3 – 2 win for the Rebels.
The Rebels now have a 2 – 0 lead in the series.
At 17:53 of the first, Derek Andrews opened the scoring for the Knights on the power play. Andrews got a quick shot off from directly in front of starting goaltender Jordan Gluck.
Stuart Walton, who led the Rebels with 21 post-season points coming into the game (four goals and 17 assists) evened it up with 2:41 to play in the first on a crafty tip-in from right beside goaltender Dustin Nikkel. Erik Alden and Diego Bartlett got assists on the play.
The Rebels outshot the North Okanagan team 16 – 4 in the first and almost got a short-handed goal near the eight-minute mark, but the score remained locked at one each through 20 minutes.
The Rebels dominated puck possession in the second, with the shot clock showing 25 – 11 after forty minutes.
The Knights capitalized again on the power play when Steven Pantazopoulos took a feed from Derek Andrews and Brett Hawrys to grab the lead at 2 – 1.
In the third, Bryan Lubin knotted things up at 14:52 after a feed from Stuart Walton sent him in alone on a breakaway.
Walton had a 77 point regular season (30 goals and 47 assists), which was third in the regular season points race; one behind Columbia Valley Rockies’ Brendan Burge and six behind league-leader Jordan Salahor of the Kelowna Chiefs.
Nothing was decided in the first overtime even with the Rebels having the only power play opportunity in extra time.
At 15:46 of the second overtime frame, Rebels captain Erik Alden got a piece of a shot from Bryan Lubin, sending the puck in a high arc over Nikkel. He had no chance on the play and looked up in disbelief after realizing the puck had found the net.
Nikkel stopped 45 of 48 shots and looked superb throughout the game. Jordan Gluck was slightly less busy for the Rebels (32 shots) making key saves on about a dozen chances in overtime.
The Rebels power play is now 0 for 11 in the series, while the Knights have gone 3 for 11 with the man advantage.
The North Okanagan Knights are without their top goal-scorer, Matty Sharchuk, after he suffered a broken wrist in game five of their series with the Osoyoos Coyotes.
Games three and four will be played in Armstrong on Friday, March 29 (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday, March 30 at 7 p.m.