The Penticton Lakers make their first-ever visit to the Castlegar Complex tonight (7:30 PM) as the Rebels look to improve to 4-0 on the young season. Castlegar is coming off a 4-3 home win over Grand Forks that could easily have slipped from their grasp if not for a third-period goal from Ryan Aynsley. It's the only game in a stretch of ten days for the Rebels, who after this one are off until the 25th (when they host Beaver Valley). Coming into play tonight, two Rebels are in the top 5 in KIJHL scoring (I know, I know it's early): both Aynsley and Erik Wentzel have 6 points. These two clubs have only ever met once since the Lakers moved to Penticton from Summerland (where they were known as the Sting), that game ended up 4-1 in Castlegar's favour on Dec. 12, 2009 (trivia fans, Aynsley, Gilbert Bilodeau, Ryan Renz and Taylor Anderson were the goal-scorers).
Our Opponent: The Lakers come in with a 1-2 record so far this year, having most recently lost 4-3 at home to Osoyoos on Wednesday night. They finished last season with a 14-32-0-4 record and were swept in the first round of the playoffs by Sicamous. Being a team whose lineup is made up mainly of Okanagan Hockey School players, the Lakers are understandably young and green at the KIJHL level. All but two players on their roster are listed as rookies, the only exceptions being goaltender Adam Harris and defenceman Rylie Gallagher, who played 37 games with Revelstoke last year. Penticton is led offensively by forwards Dylan Burton (3-1-4 in 3 games), and Mike Sandor (2-1-3).
Roster Additions: The Rebels roster now includes 1990-born defenseman Matt Ridley, who spent the past two seasons in 4 different BCHL cities, most recently Salmon Arm. He was in the dressing room after the game Tuesday, as was Anthony DeLong, who is back after trying out with Humboldt of the SJHL. We'll have to wait and see if the pair are in tonight's lineup. I spoke to another new Rebel, 16 year-old Adam Smith yesterday, he tells me he's excited to make his Rebels debut and only missed the Grand Forks game thanks to a suspension he incurred in the WHL pre-season. For the record, Ridley is listed as number 10, DeLong 16, and Smith 14.
Broadcast Info: I'll have the webcast here starting at 7:30 tonight. As the season goes on, I hope to add more content, especially in the intermissions. If you have an idea or feedback, feel free to drop me a line or come say hi at the rink!
The Roundup: Beaver Valley improved to 3-0 last night after a 6-3 win in Nelson. The Leafs are 0-3. Spokane doubled Kamloops 4-2 in the first of a three-game in three-night Okanagan trip. They play in Princeton and Kelowna today and tomorrow. Nick Van Damme scored a pair for the Border Bruins, but it wasn't quite enough, they lost 5-3 at home to North Okanagan. The Knights visit the Nitehawks tonight. Former Smoke Eater Thomas Abenante picked up 25 PIMs in his Fernie Ghostriders debut. A misconduct, coupled with a fighting major and the accompanying game misconduct helped him reach that total. More below on some recent wheeling and dealing by Fernie.
Bits & Bites: RiderNews again has the lowdown on 4 separate deals made by the Fernie Ghostriders recently. As alluded to earlier, former Smokie Thomas Abenante has been shipped to Fernie for futures. The 'Riders also sent Seattle native R.J. Preisser to Spokane. The 19 year-old had a goal in two appearances with Fernie. Former Chase Chief Kevin Monfette and Alberta product Jared Cardinal are off to the NWJHL's North Peace Navigators, and Texan goaltender Hayden Capuozzo has had his rights traded to the VIJHL's Kerry Park Islanders. Former Nitehawk Layne Stopanski is on the move again, the Trail Times reports he's now with Aseda IF in the Swedish Third division. Interesting to note the Kalashnikov brothers, two Belarussian natives from Vancouver signed by Grand Forks recently, were not on the roster in last night's game against North Okanagan. They took the warmup against Castlegar Tuesday but did not play. Nelson's Troy Petrick scored the shootout winner Thursday as the NAHL's Dawson Creek Rage edged the Alexandria (MN) Blizzard 2-1 in exhibition play. The Rage open up their inaugural NAHL season on Friday. And finally, best wishes to former Smoke Eater Shawn Mullin, who's last day at Mountain FM was yesterday. He's off to Swift Current, SK, to be the new radio voice of the WHL's Broncos, I know he'll do a great job there. New Smokies broadcaster Jon Zacks will make his Mountain FM debut tonight in Westside, good luck to him as well and welcome aboard.