It has all the makings of a classic.
The Castlegar Rebels and Beaver Valley Nitehawks will open up the Neil Murdoch division final this weekend at the Complex.
The two top seeds in the Neil Murdoch division had different paths through the first round.
Despite heading to overtime twice, Castlegar dispatched the Spokane Braves in five games, while Beaver Valley had a much tougher time defeating the Nelson Leafs in a seven-game thriller that saw the home team prevail in every matchup.
“They’re very strong at home, as you saw in that last series,” Rebels head coach Steve Junker said.
“We expect a physical series, but we’re looking forward to it.”
The Nitehawks were the only KIJHL team to beat Castlegar more than once during the regular season, winning three times in the two teams’ eight meetings, including a pair of victories at the Complex. “We’re in a position where we just know we’ve had success against them,” Nitehawks bench boss Terry Jones said.
“We could be bounced in four straight, we could win four straight, that’s going to be decided by the players, but I’m excited for the challenge.”
Recent history may be on the Rebels side, though.
The two clubs last met in the first round of the 2009 playoffs, a series Castlegar won in six games.
Taylor Anderson, Erik Wentzel, Darren Tarasoff, Anthony DeLong and Tyler Jones all played for Castlegar in that series, while current captain Colton Donselaar is the only remaining Hawks holdover.
Game 1 is set for Friday night at the Complex at 8 p.m., with Game 2 scheduled for the following night.
The series will shift to the Beaver Valley Arena for Games 3 and 4 Monday and Tuesday night.