Ryan Aynsley’s power-play goal late in the second period proved to be the game-winner, as the Castlegar Rebels eliminated the Spokane Braves with a 6-2 victory Sunday at the Complex.
Aynsley found himself alone in the slot, and with traffic forming in front of Braves goaltender Garrett Barr fired a wrist-shot through everything and into the back of the net for his fifth goal of the series.
The 20-year-old would add a second goal in the third period, while Spencer Brodt had a pair of tallies of his own.
Taylor Anderson and Jamie Vlanich rounded out the Rebels scoring, as Castlegar advances to the Neil Murdoch division final with a 4-1 series victory.
Cole Buckley, appearing in his third straight contest, stopped 29 Spokane shots in front of a season-high crowd of 460 for his second victory of the post-season.
Four Rebels also received divisional awards prior to the opening faceoff.
Aynsley was named the Neil Murdoch division MVP, while Darren Tarasoff and Alex Ross were billed the division’s top defenceman and goaltender respectively.
Castlegar coach Steve Junker was also presented with the division’s Coach of the Year award in his first year with the club.
The Rebels will face either Beaver Valley or Nelson in the second round: those two clubs will play a pivotal Game 5 Monday in Fruitvale with the series tied at 2-2.
The second-round series is tentatively scheduled to open Thursday in Castlegar.
A pair of Castlegar products in the East Kootenay also advanced Sunday, as Fernie swept the Kimberley Dynamiters in four straight games.
Scott Morisseau scored his league-leading ninth goal of the playoffs while Andrew Walton posted his fourth victory of the post-season between the pipes.
Morisseau was also named the Eddie Mountain division MVP, while Walton picked up the top goalie award.