Friday, December 31, 2010

Alumni Game Tonight

Rebels from the past will be back in action tonight for the annual Castlegar Rebels alumni game. All the action gets underway at 6:30 at the Complex. If you're one of those attending the New Year's party tonight, your ticket will get you into the alumni game for free.

Unfortunately, I won't be attending due to family commitments in the Lower Mainland, but on behalf of everyone involved with the blog and our Rebels webcasts, Happy New Year, and here's to an exciting 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rebels 9 Leafs 0

On a night that could have been reserved as a welcoming party for a returning star forward, it was an affiliate callup who stole the show.

Jesse Knowler scored the first (and eventual game-winning) goal, and added three assists, as the Rebels annihilated the Nelson Leafs 9-0 last night at the Complex.

Knowler, the 16 year-old captain of the major midget Kootenay Ice, fit in splendidly on a line with Jamie Vlanich and Arthur Andrews, and was arguably the most consistent and threatening player on the ice for Castlegar last night (for his efforts, he was named the game's first star).

Vlanich, Andrews, Taylor Anderson, Erik Wentzel, Darren Tarasoff, Tyler Jones, Stuart Walton and Anthony DeLong all chipped in with goals, and sniper Ryan Aynsley added an assist in his return to the KIJHL after a month with the BCHL's Trail Smoke Eaters.

Alex Ross and Cole Buckley combined for the shutout (Ross exited the game 20 seconds into the third period), while Marcus Beesley was chased after allowing four goals in the first period (Darren Hogg mopped up the final fourty).

To me, Nelson looked a bit flat after a 17-day holiday layoff, and as well as the Rebels played, the visitors weren't able to muster any sustained pressure, even on five power-play attempts. All four Castlegar lines were dangerous and worked hard at both ends of the ice, and never took their feet off the gas pedal even when the game was well out of reach.

One bright spot for Nelson, to me, was the return of defenceman Raymond Reimer after a long layoff. He's been out of the Leafs lineup since September after suffering a lower-body injury. On the other hand, former Spokane Braves sniper Joel Stewart was nowhere to be seen, and apparently I'm not the only one to notice: Leafs beat writer Bruce Fuhr laments on the team's offensive struggles in this recent article in the Nelson Daily.

All in all, an impressive return to action for Castlegar, who for the second time this season find themselves on a ten-game winning streak. Whether or not they carry the momentum on the road remains to be seen, but after last night's performance, one would have to like their chances.

Suspension Watch: Leafs forward Patrick Martens was tossed for a check from behind in the final ten minutes of the third period. I'd hazard a guess that the standard one-game ban under the new misconduct rules would probably apply and wouldn't expect to see anything extra.

Up Next:
the Rebels visit Beaver Valley Sunday afternoon (1:00, Beaver Valley Arena).

Aynsley: Yes, he's back, and myself and Trail's play-by-play man Jon Zacks caught up with him last night after the game. I'll post the audio (along with a Knowler interview) once it's run on Mountain FM.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gameday: Rebels vs. Leafs

Back to work after a week-long layoff, the Rebels jump right back into action against a division rival tonight at the Complex. Castlegar has taken all four games from the Nelson Leafs thus far this season, and come into tonight's game on a nine-game winning streak.

It's the start of a pivotal stretch for Castlegar (27-5-0-0). This time last year, the club was flying high, but stumbled after a three-week holiday layoff and crashed out of the first round of the playofffs. This year, the break is shorter, but the team will be hoping to continue their strong start. Considering that only 7 of their remaining games are on home ice, that test could be tougher.

Last Meeting: the two teams met just over a month ago in the Nelson Civic Centre's 75th anniversary special. It was the Rebels, however, who skated away with a 5-0 win thanks to a hat-trick from Ryan Aynsley and a shutout courtesy of current Fernie Ghostrider Andrew Walton.

Our Opponent: It'll be a much different Nelson squad than the one that visited Castlegar in mid-October. Former Brave Joel Stewart and former Dynamiter Brennan Foreman have provided added punch to a lineup led offensively by overager Gavin Currie (who has 42 points so far in 2010-11). Newcomer Evan Moir has some jump up front as well, while Riley Henderson, Tyler Parfeniuk and captain Taylor O'Neil are just three of the cogs on a veteran blueline. Goaltenders Marcus Beesley and Darren Hogg are rounding into form too.

Broadcast Info: join us for the webcast, as usual, at 7:30.

In the Press Box: Nelson, for all their new bodies, are still pretty banged up. Raymond Reimer hasn't played since September after suffering a knee injury, though I'm told he has started skating again. Forward Connor McLaughlin could be out a while after suffering an upper-body injury earlier this month. A pair of Leafs, Cody Abbey and Blake Arcuri, will sit tonight's game out with suspensions after a dust-up earlier this month against the Nitehawks. Rebels forward Spencer Brodt is doubtful after missing the last four games before Christmas.

Aynsley Rumours: Trail play-by-play man and my colleague Jon Zacks tweeted yesterday that Ryan Aynsley has left the Smoke Eaters to return to Castlegar. He is no longer on Trail's active or reserve roster, however, nothing is set in stone yet according to my sources. If he does wind up back in Rebel silks, he'd definitely bolster an already-potent offense, and add to his 53 points already amassed this season in Castlegar.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays

The title says it all.

I hope everyone out there is enjoying the break, and looking forward to what should be a very exciting second half of the season!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rebels 8 Braves 7

Call it a see-saw affair, a game of shinny, or a scoreline reminiscent of an awful NFL game, the Rebels will prefer to call it their ninth straight win.

They sweep the home-and-home over the Spokane Braves after a game that had as many twists and turns as the average Kootenay highway. What was a 7-3 lead late in the second period quickly turned into a nail-biter in the third thanks to several Brave power-play goals, but ultimately Stuart Walton's second of the match turned out to be the game-winner, as the Rebels head into the holiday break in first place with a record of 27-5.

Erik Wentzel and Curtis Pereverzoff also each had a pair of goals, while Arthur Andrews and Mike Wiest added singles for Castlegar. Jacob Holmes scored twice for Spokane as did Uriah Machuga, while Tyler Mort, Jesse Collins and Nick Farmer also tallied for Spokane.

Cole Buckley
picked up the victory for Castlegar, while McKinlee Baum, despite playing less than half the game after relieving Garrett Barr, was tagged with the loss.

Up Next: The Rebels aren't back in action until December 29th when they host the Nelson Leafs (7:30, Complex). Should be a dandy, but until then it's time for a much-deserved break (although I will admit the game tonight was a significant distraction as my girlfriend and I are busily preparing to move into our new house tomorrow).

I'll post audio reaction from the weekend early next week, but barring a gigantic KIJHL story I'll be taking a break along with the team until the typical gameday package on the 29th.

Gameday: Rebels @ Braves

One more before the break.

It's the back end of a home-and-home series tonight in Spokane as the Rebels take on the Braves for the second time in as many nights. Last night's 3-1 win in Castlegar was far from a classic, but the two points earned gives the Rebels a 4-point edge on Beaver Valley in the Neil Murdoch division standings (with 5 games in hand to boot).

Arthur Andrews had the game-winner last night, hear what he had to say here.

I also spoke with forward Jamie Vlanich. To hear the full interview, click here.

Last Meeting: It's fresh in the memory of both clubs, being less than 24 hours old, but last night's game gave Castlegar a 4-1 edge in the season series, though all three upcoming meetings are south of the border.

Our Opponent: Spokane's scoring leaders didn't change much last night, as their only tally came from defenceman Brycen Fisher. Rance Hughes' 30 points are tops on the team, his line with Ryan Hadley and Guisseppe Dippolito was the most dangerous for Spokane last night. Watch for defenceman Tanner Slarks to exact revenge tonight. He was particularly upset at Rebels d-man Erik Alden after the Vanderhoof product's check knocked Braves forward Jeremiah Holmes out of the game in the third period of last night's contest. Slarks leads Spokane in PIMs with 102.

Broadcast Info: The crew in Spokane will have the webcast tonight, puck drop is at 7:30.

In the Press Box: Spencer Brodt remains out for Castlegar, talking to him last night it sounds as though he won't be back until the new year. Zak Kroll, Aaron Jackson and Derek Davis drew out of the lineup last night in Spokane. We'll have to wait and see whether Holmes is good to go.

Next 5:
Wed. Dec. 29 vs. Nelson, 7:30 PM
Sun. Jan. 2 @ Beaver Valley, 1:00 PM
Tue. Jan. 4 @ Grand Forks, 7:30 PM
Fri. Jan. 7 @ Golden, 6:30 PM Pacific
Sat. Jan. 8 @ Columbia Valley, 6:30 PM Pacific

Out of Town: It's the last night of action before the Christmas break this evening, but only one other Neil Murdoch team hits the ice, as Beaver Valley hosts Creston Valley.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rebels 3 Braves 1

Make it 8 straight.

Arthur Andrews
converted a centring pass with just over 6 minutes left in the second period for the eventual game-winner as Castlegar upended Spokane 3-1. Erik Wentzel and Jamie Vlanich also scored for the Rebels, who got a strong 36 save performance from goaltender Alex Ross. Brycen Fisher scored the game's ice-breaker, but it was all the Washington visitors could muster.

Tonight's game lacked the intensity of the last meeting on December 2nd, until a check that knocked Braves forward Jeremiah Holmes out of the game. Erik Alden caught Holmes at full speed as he exited the Braves zone, and the Spokane forward was on the ice for several minutes after the unpenalized hit being attended to by trainers from both clubs. Hopefully he's able to bounce right back and play tomorrow night. The Braves dressed former Thunder Cat Erich Schwabe tonight as Zak Kroll, Aaron Jackson and Derek Davis were all out.

Up Next: A return engagement against the Braves, this time in Spokane tomorrow night before a week-long Christmas break.

Out of Town: Although he's not listed anywhere on the scoresheet, Fernie's twitter reported forward Jordan Hirano did indeed make his 'Riders debut tonight in an 11-1 win over Columbia Valley. It looks as though Fernie's Mark Strachan and Columbia Valley's Connor Beauchemin could both be on the sidelines for each club's next game after a multi-fight situation in the third period. Creston Valley snuck past Grand Forks 3-2, the Bruins Cody Robertson and Creston's Kane Dawe fought in the final ten minutes.

Bits & Bites: The Kelowna Capital News caught up with former Rebel Ryan Aynsley in an interesting read. Check out the article here.

Gameday: Rebels vs. Braves

It's the last home game before the Christmas break tonight as the Rebels and Spokane Braves tangle at the Complex. Castlegar is coming off a successful Shuswap road swing, picking up wins over North Okanagan, Sicamous and Revelstoke, while the Braves haven't played since a 3-1 win over Beaver Valley Sunday (a game played at Eastern Washington University). It's also the start of a home-and-home series: after tonight's game, the two clubs head to the Lilac City for a return engagement tomorrow night before taking some time off for the holidays.

One of the most impressive parts about the road trip, to me at least, was the fact the team was able to spread the scoring through all four lines. Curtis Pereverzoff scored three goals over the weekend, and we saw timely goals from the likes of Stuart Walton, Tyler Robinson and Arthur Andrews as well. Goaltenders Alex Ross and Cole Buckley both made solid cases for taking over the number one position in net, we'll see if Buckley gets his first home start tonight.

Last Meeting: On December 3rd, Spencer Brodt had a goal and an assist, while Ross made 21 saves for his second shutout of the year in a 4-0 Rebels win at the Complex. The most notable event of the game though, was a third period dust-up that saw both Brodt and Darren Tarasoff suspended. Castlegar leads the season series 3-1, though this is the last time these two clubs will meet in the regular season north of the 49th.

Our Opponent: Spokane (16-16-0-1, 4th Neil Murdoch division) scored a 3-1 win over the Nitehawks in their last outing as mentioned earlier. All-Star Rance Hughes leads the way offensively with 30 points, while Mitch Fowler, who will skate in the Prospects game, sits second with 28. Forward Nick Farmer returns tonight after serving the two-game suspension he incurred the last time these two clubs met. Alaskan Garrett Barr has started every game against Castlegar this season.

In the Press Box: I've yet to receive any update on Brodt after he sat out the games against the Eagles and Grizzlies last weekend. Castlegar dressed 7 defencemen for both contests.

Broadcast Info:
As always, join us on Rebels PPV at 7:30 PM. Check the Rebels Twitter page for up-to-date scoring and news throughout tonight's contest as well.

Out of Town: Only one other Neil Murdoch division team is in action as Grand Forks visits Creston. The Border Bruins lead the season series 1-0.

Bits & Bites: As mentioned yesterday on RiderNews, Fernie is getting forward Jordan Hirano back from the Waywayseecapo Wolverines of the MJHL. He split last season between the Ghostriders and the BCHL's Williams Lake Timberwolves. From the "Where Are They Now" files, former Rebel and Brave Cory Coles had a goal yesterday in the Bakersfield Jr. Condors' (Western States Hockey League) 6-3 defeat to the Tulsa Rampage in Las Vegas. Coles has 20 points (9-11) in 20 games in Bakersfield this year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Junker Talks Road Trip + All-Stars

Nothing like a hearty pre-game meal after a long bus ride! This photo sent in by the Wentzels, who hosted the Rebels before Friday's game at North Okanagan. I'm sure it was a treat for some of the Okanagan players on the club (Erik Wentzel, Tyler Robinson, Ryan Reid to name a few) to play a bit closer to home in front of family and friends.

I caught up with Rebels bench boss Steve Junker yesterday to get his thoughts on the trip, as well as his take on the Castlegar contingent skating in next month's KIJHL All-Star weekend in Fernie. To hear the full interview (which will also air on Overtime tonight if you're in the Kootenay-Boundary), click here. I'll also be a guest on tonight's show with Smoke Eaters voice Jon Zacks. We'll go over the Neil Murdoch division's reps for the mid-season classic, which takes place the weekend of January 14th and 15th at the Fernie Memorial Arena.

Bits & Bites: Bruce Fuhr of the Nelson Daily has a nice piece on the crazy weekend that was in the KIJHL, to read it click here. A busier than normal Tuesday night with 4 games on tap including short-staffed Beaver Valley hosting Grand Forks. Columbia Valley, who by my count have 6 players currently suspended, are in Golden in another notable matchup.

Monday, December 13, 2010

3 Rebels to Play in All-Star Game

Taylor Anderson, Mike Wiest and Darren Tarasoff have all been named to the Kootenay Conference roster for the 2011 KIJHL All-Star Game in Fernie, being held the weekend of January 13th-15th. It will be Tarasoff's second trip to the mid-season classic, while Anderson and Wiest are each making their first appearances. Former Rebel Andrew Walton will be making his second straight trip as well, this time representing the Fernie Ghostriders.

Two Rebels have also been tagged to play in the annual Prospects Game. Forwards Diego Bartlett and Jamie Vlanich will both be representing the Kootenay Conference.

Here's a look at the 2011 All-Star rosters:

G - Fraser Abdallah, Fernie
G - Andrew Walton, Fernie
D - Derek Lashuk, Beaver Valley
D - Alex McDougall, Creston Valley
D - Taylor O'Neil, Nelson
D - Darren Tarasoff, Castlegar
D - Mike Wiest, Castlegar
D - Jeff Zmurchyk, Fernie
F - Thomas Abenante, Fernie
F - Taylor Anderson, Castlegar
F - Gavin Currie, Nelson
F - T.J. Fairall, Golden
F - Richard Hubscher, Kimberley
F - Rance Hughes, Spokane
F - Stephen Hynes, Columbia Valley
F - Travis Ludwar, Creston Valley
F - Josh MacDonald, Golden
F - Scott Morisseau, Fernie
F - Ryon Sookro, Beaver Valley
F - Zac Thompson, Grand Forks

G - Jordan Bytelaar, Kelowna
G - Kyle Laslo, Osoyoos
D - Reid Blinkhorn, Revelstoke
D - Kieran Friesen, Princeton
D - Brett Laird, Kelowna
D - J.R. Krolik, Penticton
D - Ross Mancuso, Osoyoos
D - Lee Muir, Princeton
F - Landon Andrusiak, Kelowna
F - Brendan Burge, Revelstoke
F - Brooks Christensen, Revelstoke
F - Taylor House, Osoyoos
F - Tyler Jackson, Kamloops
F - Stefan Jensen, Osoyoos
F - Spencer Kristensen, Princeton
F - Thierry Martine, Osoyoos
F - Ken McKay, Sicamous
F - Colin Minardi, North Okanagan
F - Bevin Ollek, Kamloops
F - Bruce Silvera, Revelstoke

G - Darren Hogg, Nelson
G - Ryan Waldhaus, Creston Valley
D - Brett DeFrias, Golden
D - Cameron Dobransky, Nelson
D - Skylar Pacheco, Creston Valley
D - Bryce Perpelitz, Kimberley
D - Kade Pilton, Fernie
D - Mack Wallace, Grand Forks
F - Diego Bartlett, Castlegar
F - Dallas Calvin, Beaver Valley
F - Tanner Cochrane, Golden
F - Jesse Collins, Spokane
F - Ryan Edwards, Beaver Valley
F - Connor Enright, Nelson
F - Brandon Formosa, Creston Valley
F - Mitch Fowler, Spokane
F - Lucas Nickles, Golden
F - Jordan Revie, Kimberley
F - Tryg Strand, Columbia Valley
F - Jamie Vlanich, Castlegar

G - Garrett Rockafellow, Revelstoke
G - Lynden Stanwood, Kamloops
D - Colton Dahlen, Revelstoke
D - Brandon Halls, Penticton
D - Shane Hanna, Osoyoos
D - Logan Hawgood, Kamloops
D - Joel Kipp, Sicamous
D - Turner Lawson, Kelowna
F - Easton Bodeux, Sicamous
F - Dylan Burton, Penticton
F - Eric Chore, North Okanagan
F - Tanner Clarkson, Kelowna
F - Devon Hascarl, Revelstoke
F - Shawn Holliday, North Okanagan
F - Jaden Janzen, Princeton
F - Kevin Leschuk, Kamloops
F - Sam Nigg, Osoyoos
F - Brandon Perger, Revelstoke
F - Carter Rigby, Osoyoos
F - Payton Schaefer, Kamloops

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rebels 5 Grizzlies 4 (OT)

Tyler Robinson scored twice, including the overtime winner as the Rebels won 5-4 in overtime over the Revelstoke Grizzlies. Curtis Pereverzoff also scored twice, while Mike Wiest added a single in a game that saw Revelstoke claw back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period. Cole Buckley made 49 saves against his old club, including 24 in the second period alone.

Bruce Silvera scored twice for the definding champs, Dayton Martens and Adam DiBella also scored for Revelstoke.

The webcast, so I'm told, was unavailable this afternoon due to a power outage in Revelstoke. I'll get more into technical issues a bit later but I'm sure the folks who do the broadcasts for the Grizzlies were just as disappointed as the people trying to tune in this afternoon.

Up Next: The Rebels play twice more before the Christmas break. A home-and-home against the Spokane Braves begins Friday at the Complex.

Suspensions Galore: A multi-fight situation last night (in the final ten minutes, to boot) between Nelson and Beaver Valley cost 6 players the opportunity to play today. The Leafs' Colton Malmsten, Cody Abbey and Blake Arcuri along with Burhan Pourmokhtari, Keanan Patershuk and Arie Postmus all dropped the gloves with just over two minutes left in the Nitehawks' 4-1 win Saturday (a game won by BV 4-1). Leafs coach Chris Shaw was not behind the bench this afternoon against Grand Forks. Beaver Valley goaltender Mike Vlanich was also assessed a game misconduct at the end of this afternoon's loss against Spokane. We'll see what number the wheel of justice falls on tomorrow.

The Nelson/BV nastiness pales in comparison to what happened in Penticton Saturday night. Check out the boxscore from the Lakers/Rockies matchup (and pay close attention to the 20:00 mark of the third period). I'd imagine suspensions will be plentiful. The tape is a bit jumpy, but judging from what is available online the main tilts featured goaltender Tyler Stamler and Laker d-man Mike Berry, Kevin Dunlop (CV) and Brandon Halls (PEN) and off to one side Kevan Mikkelsen (CV) and Zach Urban (PEN).

Out of Town: As mentioned, Spokane beat the Nitehawks 3-1 this afternoon (Ryan Hadley scored twice). I worked the Nelson/Grand Forks game this afternoon along with my colleague Matt Soper, which I can say had one of the more exciting finishes I've ever seen at any level of hockey. Down 5-2 late in the third after a Gavin Currie power-play goal, the Border Bruins clawed their way back thanks to goals from Dylan Sahara, Zac Thompson and Randy Tosoff. After a Bruins power-play in OT, and numerous ten-bell saves from both Marcus Beesley and Garrett Muir, Sahara put home the winner on a backhand with 1.3 seconds left in the 3-on-3 overtime frame. I'd also like to offer my apologies to anyone tuning in this afternoon. Due to a technical issue, we had no sound for almost the entire first half of the game. If not for a few text messages sent my way, we may not have found out until after the game.

Gameday: Rebels @ Grizzlies

It's a battle of division leaders this afternoon in Revelstoke as the Rebels wrap up their three-game road trip against the defending Keystone Cup champion Grizzlies. Castlegar is coming off an impressive 6-0 whitewash of the Sicamous Eagles last night, while the Grizzlies hammered a short-staffed North Okanagan Knights club 10-1. Stuart Walton and Erik Wentzel each had a pair of goals last night for the Rebels, while the Grizzlies' Dayton Martens had a hat-trick and two assists in a game that saw his club pepper North Okanagan's net with 58 shots.

So far, so good though on this trip for Castlegar. Head coach Steve Junker told me earlier this week that it would be a test for his troops, as it's the first time the club has been on the road for an extended period this season. It's a much tougher litmus test today however, the Grizzlies come in to this afternoon's game with a record of 28-6, good for second overall in the KIJHL.

Today's game is also a homecoming for goaltender Cole Buckley. He spent last year backing up Andrew Parent in the Grizzlies' championship run, and was traded to Kimberley last month (for Tory Caldwell) after putting up 14 wins as Revelstoke's number one man this year.

Our Opponent: The Grizzlies, for sure, are impressive, and have plenty of bodies capable of putting biscuit to basket. Brendan Burge leads the attack with 45 points, but 20 year-olds Bruce Silvera and former Princeton sniper Brooks Christensen aren't far behind at 43 and 39 respectively. Reid Blinkhorn has put up 11 goals from the back end, 8 of which have come on the power play (which went 3/6 last night against the Knights). The team was also bolstered this week with the return of 19 year-old forward Riley Spraggs from Prince George of the BCHL. He has 2 goals in 2 games since coming back to Revelstoke. The goaltending tandem of Caldwell and Garrett Rockafellow has been rock-solid this year. Caldwell has a 2.21 GAA since arriving from Kimberley in November.

In the Press Box: The Rebels went with 7 defensemen with the return of Darren Tarasoff last night, and elected not to dress Spencer Brodt. We'll have to wait and see if that holds true this afternoon (I'll admit I didn't even notice until the middle of the second period last night). The Grizzlies were without Colton Dahlen, Brooks and TJ Christensen last night.

Broadcast Info:
The Revelstoke crew has the webcast beginning at 2:00.

Next 5:
Fri. Dec. 17 vs. Spokane, 7:30 PM
Sat. Dec. 18 @ Spokane, 7:30 PM
Wed. Dec. 29 vs. Nelson, 7:30 PM
Sun. Jan. 2 @ Beaver Valley, 1:00 PM
Tue. Jan. 4 @ Grand Forks, 7:30 PM

Out of Town: All Neil Murdoch division teams are in action today. Grand Forks is at Nelson (a game for which you can join myself and 103.5 the Bridge's Matt Soper online at 1:00), while Beaver Valley and Spokane tangle at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA (despite it saying otherwise on the KIJHL site, Braves bench boss Mike Bay told me last week he was excited to play at the EWU rink).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rebels 6 Eagles 0

Stuart Walton and Erik Wentzel scored twice, and Cole Buckley snagged his first shutout as a Rebel as Castlegar defeated the Sicamous Eagles 6-0. Anthony DeLong and Curtis Pereverzoff also scored for Castlegar, who won their sixth straight game to move to 2-0 on their current road swing.

It was a game that could have been completely different, if not for several big stops by Buckley on two early Sicamous power-plays. Walton's two goals, both of the "tic-tac-toe" variety, may be two of the prettier goals scored by the Rebels this season, though Wentzel's second on a rush with DeLong was no slouch either.

Spencer Brodt, by my count, was the odd man out tonight as Castlegar dressed 7 defensemen after having Darren Tarasoff return from suspension. Tarasoff seemed to be a steadying influence on the back end along with fellow overager Mike Wiest, as the Rebels completely turned the tide of the game once they got on the board 8:39 in.

In fairness, the Eagles were without several players tonight and called up several APs according to their play-by-play man. Aaron Brandoli took the loss between the pipes, though the other half of his goaltending tandem, Chris Kingdon, did not dress.

Up Next: a visit to the Revelstoke Forum tomorrow afternoon for a date with the defending Keystone Cup champion Grizzlies. My twitter capacities may be at a minimum as I'll be joining my Mountain FM/The Bridge colleague Matt Soper calling Nelson and Grand Forks at the NDCC Arena. Stay tuned tomorrow morning for the typical gameday package.

Gameday: Rebels @ Eagles

Game 2 of the Shuswap road swing goes tonight in Sicamous as the Rebels and Eagles tangle for the only time this season. Castlegar is coming off a 6-2 win last night at North Okanagan, a game that saw 6 different Rebels light the lamp. Diego Bartlett, Anthony DeLong, Arthur Andrews, Mike Wiest, Stuart Walton and Josh McGladery lit the lamp for the Rebels. The DeLong and Andrews tallies, which came 2 minutes apart late in the second period, helped erase a 2-1 deficit and send the Rebels to their fifth straight win. Alex Ross stopped 20 of 22 shots last night to improve to 9-1 on the season. Thomas Swales and Taylor Greatrex scored for the Knights, who after a hot start have now lost 11 of their last 13 games.

Tonight's matchup sees the Rebels face another unfamiliar opponent, but in Sicamous they're welcomed by another team trying to find its way (more on that later). The Eagles sit last in the Doug Birks division with 26 points on the year (North Okanagan, while level on points, are ahead by virtue of having more wins).

Castlegar enters tonight's game with several players riding hot streaks. Wiest has picked up 7 points since being acquired from the Fernie Ghostriders. Walton has points in his last 4 outings, while captain Taylor Anderson's point streak reached 5 games last night. The blue line will get a big boost as well with the return of 20 year-old Darren Tarasoff from a three-game suspension incurred last week against Spokane.

Our Opponent: Sicamous, as mentioned, have only 11 wins to show from their first 32 games, but two of those wins have been in their past three outings, including a 7-3 thumping of Osoyoos last Friday. The Eagles sent leading scorer Brandon Formosa to Creston Valley at the December 1st deadline. The 17 year-old from Mission had 32 points in 26 games as an Eagle and was the Okanagan Conference Player of the Month in September. The club also lost forward David Ahl last week when he was called up by the BCHL's Quesnel Millionaires. Kenneth McKay has assumed the role as Sicamous' offensive leader with 17 goals and 30 points while set-up man Mark Arnold has 24 assists. Trail Smoke Eaters callup Easton Bodeux has 12 points on the back end as a 16 year-old as well. 20 year-old Chris Kingdon took the loss in goal last night in a 4-3 setback against Revelstoke. Whether or not that means we'll see 17 year-old Aaron Brandoli between the pipes remains to be seen.

In the Press Box: With Tarasoff's return, the Rebels will likely scratch one defenseman. No word yet on who that is though stay tuned to the Twitter feed tonight as game-time draws near. Sicamous are still without forwards Jamey Kreller and Drew Nikirk as well as defenceman Mike Piderman, all with long-term injuries.

Broadcast Info: The Sicamous crew will have the webcast beginning at 7:00 PM.

AP Watch: a few KIJHL faces in BCHL uniforms last night. Dallas Calvin (Beaver Valley) continues to fill in as Trail visits Vancouver Island. A pair of Penticton Lakers were in action last night for the Victoria Grizzlies as well. Defenseman Brandon Halls and forward Mike Sandor dressed for the Grizz' 4-0 loss against Vernon.

Out of Town: Nelson takes the momentum from a 6-4 win in Kimberley last night into Beaver Valley in a key Neil Murdoch matchup (7:30, BV Arena). We'll see if former Rebel Andrew Walton gets a shot at revenge as Fernie visits Creston Valley. Walton's 'Riders debut was spoiled by Creston (Brandon Formosa with the GWG), however he played last night in Fernie's 7-1 win against Spokane. Tomorrow's opponent, the Revelstoke Grizzlies, host North Okanagan.

Bits & Bites:
Fernie has picked up forward Briar McNaney (ex-Rockie) and placed him on reserve. He dressed last night in the 'Riders win against Spokane. Former Nitros captain Alex Hall is off to a great start with his new club. He's picked up 5 points in his first 3 games with the VIJHL's Oceanside Generals. He's joined in Parksville by three other KIJHL alum: G Stephen Wolff (Fernie), D Josef Chase (Spokane) and D Matt Dixon (Creston Valley). Another former Thunder Cat, goaltender Ryan Garber, has been suiting up with the Kerry Park Islanders in the same league.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gameday: Rebels @ Knights

A stretch of 3 games in 2 and a half days begins tonight in Armstrong as the Rebels and North Okanagan Knights meet for the only time this season. Castlegar (22-5-0-0) remains in a dead heat with Beaver Valley for top spot in the Neil Murdoch division, although tonight's game will be one of the 6 the Rebels have in hand over the Nitehawks.

After a slow start Tuesday against Grand Forks, the weekend is a chance for the team to get to work away from home. Erik Wentzel was outstanding against the Bruins on a de-facto fourth line with AP Darren Medeiros and Curtis Pereverzoff. It's also an opportunity for the newer members of the team to spend a lot of quality time with their mates on the bus, which can never hurt in terms of team-building.

Coach's Thoughts: I caught up with head coach Steve Junker before the team left for the Okanagan, hear his take on this weekend's games here.

Our Opponent: North Okanagan (13-18-0-0) have come back to earth, so to speak, after a roaring start to the season. 17 year-old Shawn Holliday leads the Knights' offensive attack with 30 points, while 19 year-old Colin Minardi is the team leader in goals with 11. Former Rebel Corey Bulach has found a home in Armstrong after starting the season in Kelowna. He has 11 points (2-9) in 22 games as a Knight this season. The goaltending tandem of Chris Solecki and Chris Hurry have virtually split duties this season, appearing in 19 and 15 games respectively.

In the Press Box: Darren Tarasoff will sit out the third and final game of his suspension tonight. Tyler Jones, Cole Buckley and Josh McGladery should all dress after sitting out Tuesday.

Broadcast Info:
The Knights webcast crew will have the call beginning at 7:00 PM.

Next 5:
Sat. Dec. 11 @ Sicamous, 7:00 PM
Sun. Dec. 12 @ Revelstoke, 2:00 PM
Fri. Dec. 17 vs. Spokane, 7:30 PM
Sat. Dec. 18 @ Spokane, 7:30 PM
Wed. Dec. 29 vs. Nelson, 7:30 PM

Out of Town: Two other Neil Murdoch teams are on the road tonight. Nelson visits the Kimberley Dynamiters, while Spokane is in Fernie. The Braves' Van Stefanou and Nick Farmer are both suspended for tonight's game, as are Fernie's Zach Baba and Johnny Park.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Post-Grand Forks Audio *UPDATED WITH GOAL VIDEO*

A couple of player interviews for your consumption after Tuesday's 6-2 win over the Border Bruins.

For Erik Wentzel, click here.

For 15 year-old Darren Medeiros, click here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rebels 6 Border Bruins 2

Make it four straight wins, and five against the Border Bruins.

AP callup Darren Medeiros scored twice, including the game-winner, and Kootenay Ice (MML) teammate Jarrod Schamerhorn made 19 saves as the Rebels bested Grand Forks 6-2. Medeiros fit in well on a line with Erik Wentzel and Curtis Pereverzoff: the 20 year-old added a goal, while Taylor Anderson, Tyler Robinson and Spencer Brodt chipped in singles. Zac Thompson and Derek Grimm replied for Grand Forks.

The Rebels were without defencemen Darren Tarasoff and Tyler Jones, while Josh McGladery sat out up front. Goaltender Cole Buckley was given the night off in favour of Schamerhorn after practicing with the major midget club. Ice defenseman Joren Johnson also suited up for the Rebels and logged a lot of minutes on the blueline.

Grand Forks hung in the game (and arguably controlled the balance of the play in the first period) until the middle of the third, when Medeiros and Anderson iced what was a 4-2 game with goals just over two minutes apart.

I'll have audio from Wentzel and Medeiros once they've run on Mountain FM tomorrow morning.

Up Next: The Rebels head out on a three-game road swing this weekend, beginning with the team's second-ever matchup against the North Okanagan Knights in Armstrong Friday night. Former Rebel Corey Bulach is a member of the Knights.

Gameday: Rebels vs. Border Bruins

Castlegar looks to make it four straight wins tonight when they host the Grand Forks Border Bruins (7:30, Complex). Not only that, the Rebels could take sole possession of first place in the Neil Murdoch division with a victory this evening.

The team comes into tonight's game rolling, after a 9-3 rout of Beaver Valley Saturday night in Fruitvale. Newcomers Mike Wiest and Jamie Vlanich each scored, and 16 year-old forward Diego Bartlett was given a real shot in the arm with his first KIJHL 2-goal game.

Last Meeting: On November 12 in Grand Forks, the Rebels scored five first-period goals en route to a 7-2 victory. Castlegar leads the season series 4-0.

Our Opponent: Grand Forks has only collected six wins on the season, but are keeping most of their games close. However, they are yet to pick up an away victory within the division, and tonight's game will surely be a test. Forward Yan Kalashnikov had a breakout month in November scoring 15 points (6-9) in 9 games. For his efforts he was named Kootenay Conference Player of the Month. Offensively, Salmon Arm's Zac Thompson leads the way with 36 points, while former Fort St. John Huskie Garrett Muir leads the goaltending contingent with a 4.34 GAA in 17 appearances. Watch for forward Cody Robertson. He's the club's penalty minute leader (136 PIM, good for 10th in the KIJHL).

In the Press Box: The Rebels are still without defenceman Darren Tarasoff (suspension). He's eligible to return Saturday night in Sicamous. Spencer Brodt returns to the lineup tonight after serving a one-game suspension (also stemming from a dust-up Friday night against Spokane). Grand Forks do not have any injuries or suspensions recorded on their roster, but forward Nick Van Damme and defenceman Garett McCracken both missed Friday's game.

Broadcast Info: We'll have the webcast, beginning at 7:30.

Next 5:
Fri. Dec. 10 @ North Okanagan, 7:00 PM
Sat. Dec. 11 @ Sicamous, 7:00 PM
Sun. Dec. 12 @ Revelstoke, 2:00 PM
Fri. Dec. 17 vs. Spokane, 7:30 PM
Sat. Dec. 18 @ Spokane, 7:30 PM

Roster Notes: Two Rebels will be sporting different numbers tonight. D-man Corbin Legros will be wearing #17, while Texan forward Kwinn Mazzilli has changed to #14.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Rebels 9 Nitehawks 3

Mike Wiest and Diego Bartlett each had two goals in a 9-3 Rebels romp over a flu-ridden Beaver Valley Nitehawks squad. The Rebels jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and rode the strength of three power-play goals to move into a share of the Neil Murdoch division lead.

Tyler Jones, Josh McGladery, Stuart Walton, Jamie Vlanich and Taylor Anderson also scored for the Rebels, who improve to 21-5 on the season. Cole Buckley made 30 saves in his Castlegar debut. Ryon Sookro, Ryan Edwards and AP callup Luke Bertolucci replied for Beaver Valley (20-10-0-2).

Both clubs were missing some key personnel. The Rebels were without forward Spencer Brodt and defenseman Darren Tarasoff, while BV was minus forwards Colton Donselaar, Chris Derochie and Tyler Collins as well as hulking defenseman Austin Sture. Bertolucci's Kootenay Ice mates Jesse Knowler and Jake Lucchini suited up as AP callups tonight; Knowler for the Rebels, Lucchini for BV.

Up Next: Grand Forks pays a visit to the Complex Tuesday night.

Gameday: Rebels @ Nitehawks

A battle for Neil Murdoch division supremacy tonight in Fruitvale.

The Rebels and Nitehawks hook up for the fourth of 8 meetings this season at the Beaver Valley Arena tonight with only 2 points separating them in the standings. The Nitehawks (20-9-0-2) have played 6 more games than Castlegar (20-5-0-0), but come in as one of the hottest teams in the KIJHL.

The Rebels' new-look offense was up to its old tricks in a 4-0 win against Spokane last night. It was a game that was largely played in the Braves end, and all four lines contributed with offensive chances.

Some post-game audio from last night is available:

To hear from new defenseman Mike Wiest, click here.

For goaltender Alex Ross' thoughts on the game and more, click here.

Last Meeting: Like Spokane last night, it might take the Rebels and Nitehawks a period or so to rekindle their dislike for one another. Back on October 9th, BV had an early 2-0 lead thanks to two Dallas Calvin tallies before the Rebels stormed back for a 5-2 home win.

Our Opponent: The Hawks have been rolling over the past two months. Don't let last night's 6-2 loss in Nelson fool you, this club knows how to score. Ryon Sookro and the 16 year-old Calvin lead the attack offensively, but Alaskan newcomer Austin Sture has quietly racked up 18 points on the back end too. Number one goalie Mike Vlanich has 16 wins to his credit this year. Forward Colton Donselaar sits in a tie with Nelson's Colton Malmsten for third in the KIJHL in penalty minutes with 154. The cozy confines of the Hawksnest provide for considerably less free space than some other KIJHL rinks, something no doubt the home side will try to use to their advantage tonight.

Broadcast Info: Our friends in BV will have the webcast call beginning at 7:30.

In the Press Box: This could get tricky. Rebels forward Spencer Brodt and d-man Darren Tarasoff could be forced to sit out after both picked up fighting majors in the last ten minutes of last night's game, which means Corbin Legros and Curtis Pereverzoff will likely draw back into the lineup tonight (stay tuned to the Rebels twitter for any late-breaking suspension news). AP callup Jesse Knowler did not look out of place in his third appearance with Castlegar this season. His Kootenay Ice major midget club has the weekend off so he (or a teammate) could very well play with the Rebels tonight.

Out of Town: Nelson have a tough task ahead of them tonight as they visit the Osoyoos Coyotes. Another one to watch takes place in Fernie tonight, the Ghostriders host Revelstoke in a battle of division leaders.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rebels 4 Braves 0

The Rebels came into the first game of their new era wanting balanced scoring. They got it. Tyler Robinson, Spencer Brodt, Erik Wentzel and Anthony DeLong each scored, and Alex Ross picked up his second shutout of the season as Castlegar picked up win number 20 on the year.

Two of the three newcomers made positive first impressions (but to be fair, Cole Buckley didn't play). Mike Wiest (pictured above) had an assist, while Jamie Vlanich created several scoring chances on a "Kid Line 2.0" with Diego Bartlett and Arthur Andrews. The Rebels were strong defensively, limiting the Braves to 10 shots through the first 40 minutes.

What remains to be seen, however, is the fallout of a mid-third-period incident that saw 4 players (the Rebels Spencer Brodt and Darren Tarasoff and Spokane's Van Stefanou and Nick Farmer) ejected for fighting. The odd part about the whole thing, which contravened the KIJHL misconduct rules, is that neither side really seemed terribly interested to fight. We'll see what the league disciplinarians have to say about the whole incident tomorrow.

Up Next: The Rebels visit the Nitehawks in Fruitvale in a battle for first place. Beaver Valley lost 6-2 in Nelson tonight.

Out of Town: Former Rebel Andrew Walton lost his debut in Fernie, 2-1 against Creston Valley. New T-Cat Brandon Formosa scored the winner, while captain Travis Ludwar made his return to the lineup. Elsewhere, Osoyoos lost in regulation for just the second time this year, 7-3 at Sicamous.

AP/BCHL Watch: Former Rebel Ryan Aynsley had an assist in Trail's 4-3 loss vs. Surrey tonight, while former Eagle David Ahl went pointless in his Quesnel Millionaires debut, a 3-1 home win over Victoria. It's decision time for Westside: former Rebel Matt Ridley played his ninth game as a Warrior AP tonight in their 2-2 tie at Vernon. Fernie's Chase Golightly AP'ed for Prince George tonight, while Osoyoos' Carter Rigby had an assist for the Penticton Vees in their 6-1 win at Merritt.

Gameday: Rebels vs. Braves

It seems like a month has passed since the last time the Rebels played a home game, and tonight's matchup against Spokane is not without its share of intrigue. Gone are Ryan Aynsley, Andrew Walton and Adam Smith. Newly-acquired Mike Wiest, Jamie Vlanich and Cole Buckley could all feasibly make their Rebels debuts this evening (7:30, Complex). The new-look Rebels were undoubtedly the busiest team on cut-down day, and I had a chance to chat to coach Steve Junker about his new goalie late yesterday afternoon.

To hear that interview, click here.

Tonight marks a stretch of three divisional games in five days that are of the utmost importance to Castlegar. They sit 4 points back of Beaver Valley for first in the Neil Murdoch, however the Rebels do have 6 games in hand. Saturday's game in Fruitvale should be a dandy as well. For the post-Aynsley Rebels to succeed, they need to have a balanced attack from the likes of Wiest, Taylor Anderson, Anthony DeLong, Erik Wentzel and Spencer Brodt. Junker told me earlier this week Aynsley's departure to Trail forces them to rely on more than just one player for offense, and that style of play will get its first test tonight against a hard-working club from Washington state. This is the first of three December meetings between the two teams: they'll play a home-and-home December 17th and 18th as well.

Last Meeting: October 22nd in Castlegar. Anderson scored twice as the Rebels went 4/7 on the power-play in a 5-3 win.

Our Opponent: Spokane (15-14-0-1, 3rd Neil Murdoch) comes in having not played since last Friday, a 3-2 OT loss in Nelson (the winner scored by former Brave Joel Stewart). The club's player of the month for November, forward Rance Hughes leads an attack that has struggled to score at times, but with speedy forwards like Mitch Fowler and Jesse Collins in tow, this Braves club can be dangerous (they handed the Rebels one of their five losses earlier this season). Uriah Machuga also has 13 points since returning to the Braves from Trail. Newcomer Tyler Mort should make his Braves debut tonight as well.

Ridley Traded: Even though he hasn't played with the Rebels in over a month, it's worth a mention the team has sent defenceman Matt Ridley to the Osoyoos Coyotes, where he was immediately placed on reserve. Ridley had spent the last month with Westside in the BCHL.

Out of Town: It's an 8-game night in the KIJHL this evening, all other Neil Murdoch teams are in action as well. Grand Forks hosts Kimberley (7:30, Grand Forks Arena). Beaver Valley is in Nelson (7:00, NDCC Arena).

Bits & Bites: Lots of transaction news to catch up on: former Rebel Luke Richardson has been placed on reserve by the Kelowna Chiefs. He had 26 points in 25 games in Rutland. Prince George (BCHL) has reportedly signed Brandon Watson from Osoyoos, and also released former Revelstoke Grizzlies forward Riley Spraggs. A Cranbrook newspaper report says former Dynamiters captain Alex Hall could be joining the Oceanside Generals of the VIJHL, while fellow 20 year-old Brock Leavins is off to the Northwest League's Whitecourt Wolverines. Former Beaver Valley Nitehawk Kyle St. Denis is now on the active roster of the BCHL's Victoria Grizzlies.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rebels Snag New Goalie

Castlegar has acquired goaltender Cole Buckley from the Kimberley Dynamiters to fill the void left by Andrew Walton. Buckley joins his third KIJHL team this season, after making 16 appearances with the Revelstoke Grizzlies earlier this year. He was a backup on the Grizzlies' 2010 Keystone Cup team as well. The 18 year-old from Penticton has a 14-3-1 record this year with a 2.98 goals against average in 19 games played.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Junker, Verner Audio + Smith Moves Up

I chatted with the two coaches involved in yesterday's blockbuster involving Andrew Walton, Mike Wiest and Jamie Vlanich.

For Rebels bench boss Steve Junker, click here.

To listen to my interview with Fernie coach Will Verner, click here.

Movin' On Up: Junker also confirmed with me that Adam Smith is officially a member of the BCHL's Cowichan Valley Capitals. He's been added to their active roster this afternoon as well. Smith is pointless in 4 appearances so far in Duncan. The Nanaimo product finishes his stint with the Rebels with 3 points and 108 PIM in 16 games. Best of luck to "Smitty" as he continues his hockey career!

DeLong Nominated: The Rebels have also nominated Anthony DeLong as their player of the month for November. DeLong picked up points in all but one of Castlegar's 8 games last month (11 points in total). He'll surely be counted on to be one of the Rebels' offensive leaders as the season progresses, especially now that Ryan Aynsley is in the BCHL.

Speaking of Aynsley, Mountain FM's Jon Zacks has an interview with him up on his blog.

Bits & Bites: A few other nominees to throw out there for November players of the month: Tyler Jackson (Kamloops), Ryan Hewitt (Creston Valley), Fraser Abdallah (Fernie) and Richard Hubscher (Kimberley) have all been selected by their respective teams, with more to come in the next few days. One Neil Murdoch division signing of note to pass along as well. Spokane signed 18-year old forward Tyler Mort. His younger brother Tanner is a defenceman with the WHL's Spokane Chiefs.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Walton to Fernie in 3-Player Swap

The Rebels and Ghostriders have finalized a trade that sees all-star goaltender Andrew Walton head to the Elk Valley in exchange for 20 year-old defenseman Mike Wiest and 17 year-old forward Jamie Vlanich. The local netminder was moved one appearance shy of 100 as a Rebel, during which time he posted a 59-29-3 record, 9 shutouts and a 2.69 GAA. This move definitely caught me by surprise, but I'm sure Walton will shine in Fernie and I wish him nothing but the best (even though it could be a bit odd seeing him in black and red should these two clubs meet in the playoffs).

In Wiest, the Rebels get a power-play quarterback to replace Matt Ridley. The Enchant, Alberta native has 35 points (which by the way would be good for top spot on the current Rebels roster), and is no stranger to the West Kootenay, having spent parts of two seasons with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. Vlanich, a Trail product, is now with his third KIJHL team after spending last season in Golden. He'll bring speed to the Rebels contingent of forwards, and has 11 points in 19 games this year (though he was injured earlier in the season). To both the new Rebels, welcome to Castlegar, should be interesting to see how they both fit in this weekend (particularly Saturday night in Fruitvale).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Aynsley to Trail (this time for good)

Ryan Aynsley will spend the rest of the 2010-11 season with the Trail Smoke Eaters, and to that I say good on him! After Saturday's 5-0 win in Nelson, the 20 year-old from Kelowna had 53 points in just 23 games played this year, as well as 9 in 4 games in Trail as an AP. Aynsley previously played in the BCHL with Merritt (that being in 2008-09). I wish nothing but the best for Aynsley as he finishes his junior career with another great franchise, and will make certain to head down Highway 22 to catch him in action with his new club.

Without question, his departure leaves a gaping hole in the Rebels offense, but one I believe the rest of the leaders on this club can patch up efficiently. Speaking with head coach Steve Junker after Saturday's win, I get the sense he'll be relying on his guys to play a more team-oriented game, rather than relying on #19 to score a point on every shift. Players like Anthony DeLong, Erik Wentzel, Spencer Brodt and Taylor Anderson will now be counted on as THE guys to provide the bulk of the scoring, whereas prior to Aynsley's departure they served as an offensively gifted supporting cast.

Bruce Fuhr of the Nelson Daily has a nice piece on Aynsley here as well.

We'll all get our first look at the post-Aynsley Rebels Friday night against the Spokane Braves (Complex, 7:30 PM). But, with the December 1st roster deadline now just two days away, who knows if the lineup we see today will be the one we see tomorrow.

Bits & Bites: At least one local team has gotten an early start on deadline day. Nelson picked up Minnesotan Rudi Schiebel from the North Okanagan Knights in a deal that sees 17 year-old Tanner Burns head to Armstrong. Schiebel was goal-less in 9 games as a Knight this year, but had 11 last year with the Penticton Lakers.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rebels 5 Leafs 0

Sorry for the late update, internet issues plus spending the night in Nelson last night didn't afford me the opportunity to update sooner..

Ryan Aynsley's hat-trick paced Castlegar to a 5-0 whitewash of the Leafs last night at the Civic Centre. It was a night set aside to celebrate Nelson's hockey heritage, but many in the large crowd left with long faces as the Rebels played, in the words of all of the coaching staff, one of their most complete games of the season.

Tyler Robinson and Anthony DeLong also scored, while Andrew Walton stopped everything that came his way for his third shutout of the season (and second against the Leafs).

Castlegar now sits 4 points out of first place thanks to a three-for-three weekend by Beaver Valley, though the Rebels (19-5-0-0) have 6 games in hand.

Stay tuned to Mountain FM and this blog tomorrow and Tuesday for player movement news ahead of the December 1st cut-down date. I'm told at least two deals are on the table, and two more transactions are done, but won't be announced until tomorrow at the earliest.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gameday: Rebels @ Leafs

Tonight, the Rebels have a chance to play spoiler, and also get back to their winning ways. It's the 75th anniversary of Nelson's Civic Centre, so tonight, the Rebels and Leafs will do battle in the old haunt of the senior Maple Leafs clubs that competed in senior hockey for decades. (The current incarnation of the Leafs moved out in 2005 when the new NDCC Arena was built). There's no better opportunity for Castlegar to bounce back after a tough outing last night in Osoyoos, and to top things off, it's expected to be a sell-out crowd.

The jersey in the photo, by the way, is a one-off throwback being worn by the Leafs tonight (taken from our Nelson station 103.5 The Bridge's Facebook page). The Leafs will be auctioning the shirts off after the game.

The Rebels (18-5-0-0) will have a familiar face back in the lineup tonight. Erik Alden has served his suspension and will bolster a defence corps that relied on 5 bodies for the past three games (though AP Riley Ostoforoff made the trip to the South Okanagan last night). The team is also reportedly trying to swing a deal for a defenceman to add to the current staff, we'll have to wait and see if anything is done by the December 1st cut-down date.

Last Meeting: The two teams last played on October 15th in Castlegar, a game won by the Rebels 5-1. Erik Wentzel had a hat-trick in a game that saw suspensions doled out thanks to some third period fights. The Rebels lead the season series 3-0, and are 1-0 in Nelson this year (a 5-1 win on opening weekend).

Our Opponent:
Nelson (15-11-0-0) comes into tonight's game on a 5-game winning streak, and after a slow start seem to have found their way in the Neil Murdoch division. A 3-2 win last night over Spokane, capped off by an OT winner by former Brave Joel Stewart, put the Leafs to within one point of the Washingtonians (with four games in hand). Gavin Currie has a wide edge in the team scoring lead with 35 points, the next closest Leaf is Colton Schell with 21.

In the Press Box:
The Rebels were without Adam Smith last night as he remains with the BCHL's Cowichan Valley Capitals. Nelson will likely be without defensemen Cameron Dobransky and Walker Sidoni (both with upper body injuries), while defenceman Raymond Reimer is done for the balance of the season after having surgery earlier this year.

Broadcast Info:
My colleague Matt Soper will have the call beginning at 7:00 on the pay-per-view. I won't be at the game due to a work commitment (I will be down the street from the rink in Nelson, however), but will update the Rebels Twitter at every opportunity (in layman's terms, whenever Soper texts me an update).

Next 5:
Fri. Dec. 3 vs. Spokane, 7:30 PM
Sat. Dec. 4 @ Beaver Valley, 7:30 PM
Tue. Dec. 7 vs. Grand Forks, 7:30 PM
Fri. Dec. 10 @ North Okanagan, 7:00 PM
Sat. Dec. 11 @ Sicamous, 7:00 PM

Out of Town:
Two other Neil Murdoch teams are in action, both on the road. Beaver Valley is at Golden, while Grand Forks pays the defending champion Revelstoke Grizzlies a visit.

Bits & Bites: North Okanagan had a pair of new faces in the lineup last night. Thomas Swales joins the Knights from Osoyoos while Sean Leslie began the year in Sicamous. Leslie's club from last season, Columbia Valley, acquired Michael Keyes from North Okanagan earlier in the week. He made his Rockies debut last night. Yet another former Knight, Damon Brown, joined Kimberley this week along with ex-Leaf Tim Card.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coyotes 7 Rebels 3

Definitely not the result they'd been hoping for.

After taking a 3-2 lead, the Rebels gave up 5 unanswered goals at the Sunbowl Arena to fall 7-3 to the league-leading Osoyoos Coyotes tonight. Ryan Aynsley scored twice in a losing cause, while Stuart Walton chipped in a single. 16 year-old Carter Rigby had a hat-trick for the winners, who used 5 special-teams goals to their advantage. Jake Newton, Matt Guerts, Stefan Jensen and Thierry Martine also scored for Osoyoos.Andrew Walton made 40 saves in the loss for Castlegar.

Up Next: At Nelson, tomorrow. It's a chance for the club to play spoiler, as the game in Nelson will be played at the Civic Centre to commemorate that building's 75th anniversary (the Leafs will be wearing some pretty nice-looking throwback jerseys that will be auctioned off as well, I'll post a photo tomorrow).

Out of Town: Beaver Valley and Kimberley played a wild one. Nitehawks win 10-6. Grand Forks shocked Kamloops 3-2 to pick up their second road win of the season (former Rebel Dylan Richardson scored his first as a member of the Storm in a losing cause), and Joel Stewart sunk his former Spokane mates in OT to lift Nelson to a 3-2 win.

AP Watch: He's still on the roster, so still worth mentioning Matt Ridley had an assist for Westside (BCHL) in their 5-1 win over Penticton. Nelson's Tanner Burns played in the Smoke Eaters' 4-1 loss at Vernon, and Fernie's Kade Pilton had an assist for the Chilliwack Bruins (WHL) in their 7-2 win over the Portland Winterhawks (former Nitehawk and Smokie Steve Oursov scored for the Bruins as well).

Gameday: Rebels @ Coyotes

The first-ever meeting between the Castlegar Rebels and Osoyoos Coyotes should be a dandy (7:35 PM, Sunbowl Arena). Both teams sit first in their respective divisions: Castlegar (18-4-0-0) is first in the Neil Murdoch division, while the 'Yotes (22-1-1-4) are first not only in the Okanagan division, but the entire KIJHL. It's also the beginning of a long, 15-game stretch that sees Castlegar play only 4 times at home.

Unfortunately for us in the West Kootenay, it's the only meeting of the year between the two clubs (barring a matchup in the KIJHL finals of course). Osoyoos did make a trip to Beaver Valley earlier this season, but won't be visiting Castlegar until next year.

Castlegar haven't played since Saturday's win over the Rockies, but with a couple of new(er) faces, likely used the week of practice to their benefit. With more changes a distinct possibility in advance of the December 1st cutdown, the Rebels squad fans in the desert see tonight could be a lot different from the Rebels club that hosts Spokane next Friday.

Our Opponent: The Coyotes have a high-powered offense, with 3 players in the top 4 in KIJHL scoring. Stefan Jensen is tied with Rebel Ryan Aynsley for the league lead with 47 points (Jensen has more goals and games played), while Thierry Martine and Taylor House have also passed the 40 point plateau. The goaltending tandem of Kyle Laslo and Billy McGladrey is also stellar, they're ranked 3 and 4 in the league in terms of goals against average. Watch out for 16 year-old Carter Rigby. He started the year with the WHL's Prince George Cougars and has 12 points in 12 games.

Broadcast Info: The Osoyoos crew will cover this one beginning at 7:35 PM.

In the Press Box: Rebels defenceman Erik Alden serves the final installment of his 3-game suspension tonight. Osoyoos gets forward Brandon Watson back tonight as well from a 1-game ban served this week (thanks to the misconduct rule).

Next 5:
Sat. Nov. 27 @ Nelson, 7:00 PM
Fri. Dec. 3 vs. Spokane, 7:30 PM
Sat. Dec. 4 @ Beaver Valley, 7:30 PM
Tue. Dec. 7 vs. Grand Forks, 7:30 PM
Fri. Dec. 10 @ North Okanagan, 7:00 PM

Better Late Than Never: Some post-Columbia Valley audio from Saturday.

To hear newcomer Kwinn Mazzilli's thoughts, click here.

For Ryan Reid's take on his coast-to-coast goal, click here.

16 year-old Diego Bartlett's thoughts are available here.

Out of Town:
Grand Forks is in Kamloops tonight, while closer to home Nelson hosts Spokane (it's the first meeting since the Joel Stewart trade). Beaver Valley welcomes Kimberley.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taking A Few Days Off...

My girlfriend and I are taking a few days of vacation this week, thanks to light work schedules and no home games this weekend. As a result, the blog and the new Twitter will remain in stasis for the next few days, but I'll be back Friday to set up a pivotal matchup between the Rebels and the Osoyoos Coyotes.

Bits & Bites: One of the Coyotes' top scorers, Brandon Watson, has been suspended for one game (misconduct rule). He will be eligible to play Friday, though. Taking a peek at Grand Forks' roster, I note with interest that forward Brett Basnett has been placed on reserve. Basnett had 8 points (2-6) in 20 games with the Border Bruins, after attending camp here in Castlegar.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rebels 6 Rockies 3

After falling behind 2-0 in the second period, the Rebels scored 6 unanswered goals, many of the highlight-reel variety, in a 6-3 win over the Columbia Valley Rockies at the Complex tonight. Spencer Brodt had a pair, including a coast-to-coast short-handed effort, while Erik Wentzel, Tyler Robinson, Ryan Reid and Kwinn Mazzilli added singles. Kory Movold, Stephen Hynes and Tryg Strand replied for Columbia Valley.

The Rebels got the veteran response tonight that they needed in last night's loss. Timely efforts from the line of Wentzel, Brodt and Anthony DeLong helped put the Rebels back into the win column, while Reid (who was picked as player of the game) was a key to a solid 5-skater Rebel defence. The team was without sniper Ryan Aynsley (who was a late scratch), and captain Taylor Anderson missed the third period after scrapping Rockies defenseman Jake Halderman.

Out of Town: Every other Neil Murdoch division team in action won tonight. Grand Forks put a dozen past Penticton in a 12-4 win (Artsiom and Yan Kalashnikov each had 5 points). Beaver Valley shut out Creston Valley 3-0, while Nelson whipped the Kamloops Storm 5-1.

Gameday: Rebels vs. Rockies

It's back to work tonight for the Castlegar Rebels after a tough 5-4 loss last night to the Kamloops Storm. The short-handed Rebels face the Columbia Valley Rockies tonight for the first of two meetings this season.

Castlegar will need to put last night's loss in the rear-view mirror. There was no shortage of offensive chances (I'll be the first to say Storm goalie Lynden Stanwood was outstanding between the pipes), but untimely penalties and a couple of defensive lapses were the difference. There were some bright spots, however. Erik Wentzel returned to the lineup after missing the past few weeks with an injury, and 16 year-old Diego Bartlett scored his first career KIJHL goal (I know he'd been getting a hard time for not scoring, but his teammates sure seemed happy for him when he put the 4-4 goal past Stanwood in the third period). I thought newcomer Kwinn Mazzilli had a promising debut as well. The Texan picked up an assist and seemed to work well with linemate Anthony DeLong, who scored twice.

I spoke with both coaches after last night's game, too.

To hear what Rebels bench boss Steve Junker had to say, click here.

For Storm head coach Tyler Liebel's thoughts, click here.

Our Opponent: Columbia Valley (5-15-0-3, 5th Eddie Mountain division) is not a team to be taken lightly, despite their record and plethora of injuries. This is a club that, despite being outshot 68-21, were able to upset Fernie 5-4 recently. The Rockies, like their Eddie Mountain counterparts, lean on products of Wild Rose country to fill out their roster: Calgary's Stephen Hynes leads the team in scoring with 8-13-21 in 22 GP. At least three faces will be familiar to West Kootenay hockey fans. Forward Tryg Strand spent last season with the major midget Kootenay Ice, while tough guy Jake Halderman and goaltender Tyler Stamler were both with Grand Forks last year.

In the Press Box: The Rebels will be without defenceman Erik Alden again, as he serves the second of his three-game suspension. Forward Adam Smith played with Cowichan Valley (BCHL) last night and is a safe bet to be out of the lineup again this evening. Defenceman Matt Ridley, while still on Castlegar's active roster, hasn't played in almost a month, and did not dress for Westside (BCHL) again last night despite being on their roster as an AP. Columbia Valley has no fewer than 6 players listed as injured, though forwards Julian Fraser, Thomas Robinson, Reto Stiz, and defenceman Mike Vaughan are all listed as day-to-day. Forwards Connor Beauchemin and Jordan Gies are both out.

Broadcast Info: as always, the webcast will be available at 7:30 PM Pacific (8:30 Mountain).

Next 5:
Fri. Nov. 26 @ Osoyoos, 7:35 PM
Sat. Nov. 27 @ Nelson, 7:00 PM
Fri. Dec. 3 vs. Spokane, 7:30 PM
Sat. Dec. 4 @ Beaver Valley, 7:30 PM
Tue. Dec. 7 vs. Grand Forks, 7:30 PM

Out of Town: Spokane is the only Neil Murdoch division team with the night off tonight. The Nelson Leafs are home to Kamloops (7:00, NDCC Arena), while both Beaver Valley and Grand Forks are on the road. The Nitehawks are in Creston, while the Border Bruins visit the Penticton Lakers.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Storm 5 Rebels 4

Duncan Schulz's long slap-shot just seven seconds after a Diego Bartlett equalizer was all the Kamloops Storm needed to snap Castlegar's ten-game winning streak with a 5-4 win. Kevin Leschuk scored twice for Kamloops, while Kurt Torbohm and Josh Rasmussen added singles. Anthony DeLong replied with a pair for Castlegar, while Darren Tarasoff also scored.

Kamloops won this game with timely goals on the power-play. Torbohm's goal, which came on a 5-on-3, was quickly followed by a Leschuk tally as Kamloops erased a 2-1 second period deficit in less than half a minute.

The Rebels were clearly frustrated through much of the night, and were unable to get bounces on their home rink that seemed to have been a mainstay of the streak in recent weeks. The team was also short-handed, with news forward Adam Smith was APing with the BCHL's Cowichan Valley Capitals.

I spoke with both head coaches, Steve Junker and Tyler Liebel, after the game. I'll post that audio as part of my Rebels/Rockies preview tomorrow.

And even though it required a bit of creative texting, I was able to update the score via my twitter feed throughout tonight's game for the first time this season. As real-time scores are hard to come by given the ability for many score-keepers in the league to update, I hope it's yet another way the team can reach out to the fans (and fans of the KIJHL as a whole).

That's all for now, stay tuned for tomorrow's preview vs. Columbia Valley (who lost 4-1 at Beaver Valley tonight by the way).

Gameday: Rebels vs. Storm (Plus Trade News)

Two of the hottest teams in the KIJHL go toe-to-toe tonight as the Rebels entertain the Kamloops Storm for their only meeting this season. Castlegar has won 10 straight games, while Kamloops have picked up 7 straight wins since a 6-1 loss to Columbia Valley on October 29th.

These two clubs are right up there in terms of the rough stuff too. Kamloops leads the circuit with 1,007 penalty minutes assessed this season, while the Rebels sit 4th in the league with 838. (For the record, Nelson and Penticton are 2 and 3 with 958 and 844, respectively).

The Rebels were admittedly average in their last home outing, a 4-3 win over Creston Valley last Saturday night. A 3-1 second period lead evaporated, and a Ryan Aynsley power-play goal midway through the third period was all that separated the two clubs in a game that was marred by the injury to Travis Ludwar in the opening frame. A week of preparation should serve Castlegar well, especially if they're forced to dress only five defencemen tonight.

Richardson to Kamloops:
The Rebels made a move yesterday as well, sending forward Dylan Richardson to the Storm for future considerations. According to head coach Steve Junker, the move affords Richardson the opportunity to get more ice time and to harbour his offensive talent. Richardson had 10 points in 17 games with the Rebels this year.

Our Opponent:
As mentioned, the Storm have won 7 straight games, and after a slow start now sit second in the newly-renamed Doug Birks Division (with a record of 13-10-0-2). Kamloops is led offensively by a pair of nineteen year-olds. Tyler Jackson and Duncan Schulz each have 31 points, and are tied for the team lead with 11 goals. It's no coincidence that Kamloops' turnaround has coincided with the acquisition of former Kamloops Blazer and Prince George Cougar Kurt Torbohm to solidify their back end. The 20 year-old has chipped in offensively as well, scoring 5 times in 11 appearances with the Storm this year. Former NHLer Greg Hawgood's son Logan is another one to watch on the back end. The 17 year-old is second among Storm blueliners with 12 points this year. The team has a pair of rookies between the pipes as well, 17 year-old Lynden Stanwood has emerged as the number one man with a record of 9-4-1 and a 2.62 GAA.

In the Press Box:
Rebels defenceman Erik Alden serves the first game of his suspension tonight. Forward Erik Wentzel said a week ago he "hopes" to play this weekend, but could be out of the lineup a bit longer with an upper-body injury. Kamloops d-man Mike McCance will also sit this one out, he incurred a one-game suspension for breaking the misconduct rule last weekend.

Broadcast Info:
We'll have the webcast tonight beginning at 7:30.

Next 5:
Sat. Nov. 20 vs. Columbia Valley, 7:30 PM
Fri. Nov. 26 @ Osoyoos, 7:35 PM
Sat. Nov. 27 @ Nelson, 7:00 PM
Fri. Dec. 3 vs. Spokane, 7:30 PM
Sat. Dec. 4 @ Beaver Valley, 7:30 PM

Out of Town:
Beaver Valley look to keep pace with the Rebels as they host tomorrow's opponent, the Columbia Valley Rockies (7:30 PM, BV Arena). Spokane has one of their toughest tests of the season this evening as they welcome Osoyoos (8:00 PM, Eagles Ice-A-Rena).

Bits & Bites:
I was asked this week whether interim Kimberley coach Jordan Foreman is any relation to new Nelson Leaf Brennan Foreman. According to RiderNews, they are brothers. Some interesting words from Grand Forks coach Jesse Dorrans following last Friday's defeat against the Rebels. In this article in the Grand Forks Gazette, Dorrans was quite upset with Rebel players "taking liberties" at his goaltenders. His response: "It seems that every other time we play these guys, they like to run straight through the goaltender. If the ref’s not going to set a precedent, it maybe, I don’t know, tit for tat."