Wednesday, February 3, 2010

First Impressions

With only two weeks to go until the KIJHL regular season ends, it looks as though the Rebels are going to finish second in the Neil Murdoch division. Even though they have two games in hand on the first-place Nelson Leafs, making up 9 points in 6 games isn't easy at the best of times.

Spokane's hold on third place, and by extension their hold on a first-round playoff date with the Rebels, is on slightly more shaky ground though. If the fourth-place Beaver Valley Nitehawks, (5 points back of the Braves with 2 games in hand, one of which is tonight in Grand Forks), can string a few wins together to close out the season, they could theoretically pass Spokane. Here's a look at the two teams' remaining games.

Spokane (54 points): at Castlegar, at Grand Forks, vs. Castlegar.
Beaver Valley (49): at Grand Forks (in progress at time of writing), at Fernie, vs. Castlegar, and a home-and-home against Creston Valley.

Beaver Valley would have to go at least 4-1 to do it (and set up a Castlegar/Beaver Valley playoff series), but anything is possible. Castlegar fans can get another good look at both teams this weekend: Spokane is in town Saturday night (7:30 start time), and the Rebels visit the Nitehawks this Sunday afternoon at 1:00.

Where does this leave Nelson you might ask? I'd suggest they're hard at work getting ready to defend their championship, especially since technically first place isn't in the can yet. Leafs head coach Simon Wheeldon says his team is working on getting the power play after a game in Castlegar Saturday that saw them fail to capitalize on two LOOONG five-on-threes.

Finally, congratulations are in order for the Border Bruins. They bumped an ugly slump last night with a 4-3 overtime win in Penticton (trivia fans, 17 year-old Randy Tosoff had the winner, his 8th of the season for Grand Forks). It must have been quite an enjoyable bus ride home after the game and a definite bright spot on an otherwise tough season in the Boundary.

Number Crunching:
4 wins this season for the Border Bruins (entering play tonight), ending 26 games without a win, a stretch that lasted since October 30, 2009, when the Bruins beat Beaver Valley 3-2. That win was in the midst of 39 games without a win on the road, which started after November 2, 2008 when the Border Bruins beat Spokane 7-6 in a shootout for their last road victory, despite being outshot 62-27 by the Braves. 0 players from that win played for Grand Forks last night.

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