Game 1 of the 2010 KIJHL Playoffs is less than 24 hours away as the Castlegar Rebels and Spokane Braves get set to renew hostilities at the Castlegar Complex (7:30 PM Friday and Saturday). The two teams finished 6 points apart in the standings, the Rebels with 64, Spokane with 58, and the Rebels also took the majority of the matchups in the regular season winning 5 of 8.
That said, most of the games, (I cite the exception of an 8-3 game early in the season), were close, including a 3-2 Castlegar win in Spokane last Sunday. Time will tell if that trend carries on into the post-season. The Rebels had some impressive individual performances in the 8 games against the Braves, including Ryan Aynsley's 10 goals and Andrew Shaw's 8 points (2-6). Spokane had two 10-point men of their own against the Rebels, both Joel Stewart (who also led the team in scoring with 57 points) and Nick Redding posted double digits in points through the eight contests. The Rebels will likely ride goaltender Andrew Walton's 2.53 goals-against average and .912 save percentage, though it should be noted back-up Alex Ross went 3-0 against the Braves this year, including the win on Valentine's Day.
I had the chance to chat with Rebels coach Brent Heaven about the series, hear his thoughts here.
The first two games, as mentioned earlier, will be in Castlegar tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday, both 7:30 starts. The series switches to Washington state for Games 3 and 4 Monday and Tuesday, those will both be 8:00 PM starts.
Taking a look around the league now on the eve (for most teams) of the playoffs:
Nelson hosts Beaver Valley in Game 1 of the other Neil Murdoch division series tomorrow at the NDCC. Leafs are heavy favourites to win having finished 25 points up on the Nitehawks during the regular season. Beaver Valley's Scott Morisseau and Layne Stopanski finished first and third in the KIJHL in scoring during the regular season, however.
The eastern-most series in the league has already started, the Fernie Ghostriders beat Golden 7-0 in the Elk Valley last night in the opener of their series. Fernie posted the best overall record in the KIJHL this season.
The other Eddie Mountain division series sees Kimberley face Creston Valley. The Thunder Cats finished 3 points up on the Nitros, but Matt Foster was a 40-goal man for Kimberley this year.
The two Okanagan Conference series set to begin tomorrow are both best-of-five affairs. Sicamous should have no trouble with the Penticton Lakers, while the Kamloops Storm/Chase Chiefs series could go either way. Kamloops has had trouble putting wins together after loading up at the deadline in advance of their duties as host of this year's Keystone Cup. Revelstoke and Princeton both received byes into the next round by virtue of finishing 1-2.
Finally, there are rumours abound that there may be a webcast for tomorrow and Saturday's Rebels/Braves games. Nothing is for sure yet: the desire to put one together is there, but a few logistical hurdles will need to be overcome if it's to work. As always, the best way to make sure you don't miss a minute of the action this weekend is to come down to the Complex for both games, I'm sure the two teams won't disappoint.