The Castlegar Rebels ended the last weekend of Jan. 2016 with a 5-3 win on Friday in Nelson against the Leafs and a loss on Saturday against the Kimberly Dynamiters 5-3. Saturday’s game in front of the Rebels’ home fans was an exciting game of competitive hockey between two very good teams. The Dynamiters are presently the number one ranked team in the League and have been recent KIJHL champions. The Rebels outshot Kimberly 35-31 and had a tied 2-2 score by the end of the first period. But they got caught behind in the second period after the Dynamiters were able to capitalize on a series of man advantages to dominate the play.
The Friday match in Nelson however, seems to have been dominated by squabbles, scraps and near bench clearing brawls.
It appears that Kimberly indeed may have planted dynamite in the minds of hockey players at the Nelson arena the night before their Saturday match in Castlegar. It was an attempt to give them an advantage by having top Rebels players missing from the game roster. Players who were given game suspensions for fighting the night before would not be playing. And it worked. Rebels’ tough guy, Tyler Barrett was indeed not on the game roster and was dressed in very unsuitable clothing to play Junior Hockey. He was wearing a suit.
Fortunately for Castlegar hockey fans, their game was marked by a lot of fast paced hockey, great team play and lots of shots by both teams. In fact, there were no fights in this game at all besides some minor roughing.
It all began in the first period when the Dynamiters were first on the scoreboard at 13:28 on the clock with a goal by Korbyn Chabot. It was not until the last two minutes of play in the first period before the Rebels scored with a goal by Chris Breese assisted by Mike Bhatoa and Nick Hendrick. Twenty seven seconds later the Dynamiters scored again. Forty nine seconds later with 29 seconds left on the clock, Breese scored again assisted by Nick Hendrick, again, to tie up the game 2-2.
The second period started with a bang as Vince Bitonti scored in the first minute of play to give the Rebels a one goal lead.
However, the Dynamiters played with no penalties in the second period while Castlegar accumulated seven minutes of power play opportunity for the Kimberly team in the last half of the period. This gave Kimberly a certain momentum as the Rebels had to concentrate on killing the one man advantage rather than scoring. It was during one of these power plays that the Dynamiters took the lead to finish the second period with a 4-3 score.
The third period remained scoreless until two minutes before game end when Kimberly scored their final goal. The Rebels played tough physical hockey in the third period. But it cost them three more penalties, while Kimberly managed only one.
Rebels assistant coach Keegan Little was unapologetic for his team’s performance. “I thought overall we played a good game. A couple of bad bounces and a couple of bad penalties that we took and that was that. Kimberly is leading the league for a reason. They are a very highly skilled team. They run their systems well and have a good cycle. Once Kimberly got some momentum they hemmed us in for good parts of the game. At the same time, I thought our goalie played well and even when we were hemmed in, we still kept battling and that’s all you can ask for.”
Tuesday, Feb.2 saw another Rebels home game with Grand Forks. It was a close game that went into overtime after the Rebels overcame a Border Bruins 3-1 lead and tied up the game seconds before the end of the second period with a goal scored by Mike Bhatoa. There was no scoring in the third period and the Grand Forks team scored midway in the first overtime period to take the game 4-3.
The Rebels have a busy weekend ahead. They have a rematch with Nelson in Nelson on Friday, Feb. 5. Saturday they play a home game with the Golden Rockets. Puck drop is 7 p.m.