The Castlegar Rebels are in a tight race for the top rung in the Neil Murdoch Division of the KIJHL with rival Beaver Valley.
A disappointing 7-2 loss to the Nitehawks at home on Dec. 12 certainly didn’t help matters.
“We laid an egg. Again it was a case of Jekyll and Hyde,” said coach Jesse Dorrans after the game.
However, on a positive note, the Rebels knocked off Osoyoos 4-3 Dec. 11.
In the Beaver Valley game, Rebel goalie Joseph Mcleod was suffering from a sore back and was pulled after two quick goals by the visitors.Backup goalie Logan Sawka made several impressive saves in the remaining 15 minutes of the first period and throughout the remainder ofthe game, but the Nitehawks had begun a scoring spree that was difficult for the Rebels to control.
The Nitehawks would sink two more goals in the first period, before the Rebels would get on the scoreboard with two of their own.
Both goals were by Mike Bhatoa. The first at 4:59 on the clock after line-mate Chris Breese stole the puck in the neutral zone from theNitehawks and with the help of defenceman Nick Headrick gave Bhatoa a beautiful setup. Bhatoa would be again positioned perfectly toreceive another setup from teammates Hayden Woods and Daniel Petten to blow another shot past Nitehawk goalie Tallon Kramer with 15seconds left in the first period.
The next two periods would not be kind to the Rebels, as they would not be able to put the puck past the Nitehawks goalie again. BeaverValley would score two more goals in power play opportunities in the second period; keeping their top record in the league for power plays.
BV would put one more shot past Sawka early in the third period to give the Nitehawks a five goal lead that was beyond the reach of theRebels to overcome. Sam Swanson who scored two of the Nitehawks first three goals would be awarded the Away Star title.
Sawka was awarded the Home Star after taking over a difficult situation and not making it substantially worse. He had to face 39 BV shotsand although he allowed five goals he made several important saves that kept the score from creeping higher.
Dorrans had difficulty defining the Rebels state of play against BV.
“It’s a mental block, its hard thing to pinpoint; we played great on Friday, but basically we laid an egg on Saturday.”
He was confident about the team’s next bout with Grand Forks in Grand Forks this Saturday, Dec. 19.
“We got to rebound from our game on Saturday. Its more about what we’re going to do, compared to what they’re going to do.”
The Rebels have one more game in 2015 after Grand Forks with the Nitehawks again on Dec. 29 in Beaver Valley. Dorrans was hopeful thatwith a Christmas Break for players to go home and visit with their families they will return invigorated and, “Be on the right side of thescoreboard this time.”