After a poor performance against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Tuesday, the Castlegar Rebels faced them again on Friday — this time putting up a much better fight.
Though the Rebels lost in overtime, they were able to keep the Nitehawks on their toes in large part thanks to the goaltending of No. 1 Chandler Billinghurst.
“I thought Chandler was our best player tonight,” said head coach and GM Bill Rotheisler, following the game. “He had some rough goes against Beaver Valley, but he’s our guy and he’s our starter, and we have a lot of confidence in him, so we put him in there again, and we put him in there every other time, and he was really good tonight.”
By the end of the game, the young goalie had kept out 42 of 45 shots on goal.
“I just found like before my game, there was a lot of stuff that I was in my own head and I just forgot about it, sorted it all out, changed some things up that I wasn’t doing, before the game, and just played my game,” Billighurst explained after the match.
He kept the Rebels in the game over the first two periods, giving up only two goals with 29 shots on net, while the team counted only one goal while on a power play, scored by No. 10 Brandon Costa and assisted by No. 3 Logan Styler and No. 13 John Moeller.
It was Moeller who scored the goal that got the Rebels back in the game. The Rebels’ offense started coming together in the third, and late in the period Moeller scored on a giveaway, tying the game. But despite ending the period on a power play, the Rebels weren’t able to find the net again and headed into overtime.
They put up a fight in the first overtime period, but still weren’t able to end the game. Then in the second three-on-three overtime period the team caught a break and Styler got the chance to take a penalty shot, but the Nitehawks’ No. 1 Tallon Kramer pulled off a tough save and shortly afterwards his team scored, ending the game with a Nitehawks’ victory and a score of 3-2.
The Rebels were visibly crushed by the loss, but Rotheisler gave them credit after the game.
“They’re taking it rough, but they shouldn’t. They played well. You know, we made a coaching decision to put three forwards out there [during the three-on-three] and that’s on us,” he said. “The loss is on us. The boys played well enough and they should feel good about tonight.”
The game also had its casualties. Both No. 16 Chance Szott and No. 4 Daneel Lategan were injured during the game, and Rotheisler was unable to say whether they’d be able to play over the weekend.
“We’ll get them assessed in the morning and then it will ultimately be up to the professionals on whether they’re good enough to play, but we won’t take any chances if they aren’t,” said Rotheisler.
Friday night was the last time the Rebels will face the Nitehawks during the 2016-2017 regular season. Castlegar ended the series 1-7.
The Rebels also played two away games over the weekend. They defeated the Spokane Braves 8-2 on Saturday and the NelsonLeafs 3-2 on Sunday. The team is still second in the Neil Murdoch division.