The Castlegar Rebels fell farther behind Nelson in the battle for first place in the Neil Murdoch Division of the Kootenay Conference after splitting two home games this weekend.
With two home games, the Rebs went one and one. On Friday, the boys shut out Kimberley 1-0 and on Saturday, the Rebels lost 4-3 to Osoyoos.
“It was a weekend where we definitely saw some things that need to be addressed,” said head coach Steve Junker. “It’s part of the learning process that were going through. Obviously, splitting the weekend they were both close games and we were involved in both but not necessary playing the way we hope to in the future.”
Junker said the team must improve their intensity if they hope to achieve the success of last year’s team.
“We need to improve our overall intensity and work ethic,” he said. “The pace of our game is something that we’re addressing and will continue to work on. That’s an element of the game that needs to be there every night and in practice every day. Having a young team, we knew there would be some growing pains.”
On Friday, Stuart Walton’s power play goal at 14:01 of the first period was the only goal the Rebels would need as Castlegar shut out the visiting Kimberley Dynamiters.
Connor Beauchamp picked up the shutout for Castlegar as he turned away all 19 Nitro shots.
“I thought we came out of the games well and had a strong first period,” said Junker. “I didn’t think we really did the job defensively. I thought our goalie played well. We got into sloppy, bad habits and allowed them into the game.”
On Saturday, the Rebels fell 4-3 to the Osoyoos Coyotes, the same team that knocked the team out of the play-offs last season.
The Coyotes were led by a hat-trick from Zachary Lindsay. Lindsay started off the scoring with a power play goal with 26 seconds left in the first period. He then scored another power play marker at 16:33 of the second to put Osoyoos up 2-0.
Diego Bartlett put Castlegar on the board at 12:20 assisted by Kody Disher and Peter Mingus.
Sam Nigg put Osoyoos up 3-1 at 9:47 of the second period with another power play goal for the Coyotes.
The Rebels got back within one with Tyler Robinson scoring assisted by Braydon Horcoff and Aaron Brewer.
Lindsay finished off his hat-trick with two minutes left in the second to put Osoyoos up 4-2.
“We have a lot of new guys that maybe don’t know the history [between the two teams],” said Junker. “I think there was some emotion for some guys and maybe a lack of emotion for others. We came out flat and played flat for two periods of hockey. I don’t think you’re going to have too much success in any league if you come out without any fire or desire to play the game.”
The Rebels played stronger in the third period, outscoring the Coyotoes 13-9 and getting a goal from Braydon Horcoff to cut the Osoyoos lead to 4-3.
“We got a little more urgency into our game and were able to at least press for the come back,” said Junker. “At the end it was too little, too late. We ended up paying the price for a poor start.”
This weekend, the Rebels face the Spokane Braves in a home and home tilt. The teams play in Castlegar on Friday and head over the border to Spokane for a game Saturday.
Although the Braves are off to a slow start with only one win on the season so far in seven games, the Rebels aren’t taking them ligh
“Typically they have a strong team and a good skating team,” said Junker. “We’re going to be concentrating on ourselves. If we focus on what we need to work on as a team and working hard results will come.”