It's a battle of division leaders tonight as the Rebels (11-3-0) host the high-flying Fernie Ghostriders (13-1-0). Both teams are riding winning streaks: Castlegar's won 3 straight, while Fernie has picked up wins in their last five outings.
Tonight's game could easily be considered the toughest test of the season thus far for the Rebels. An impressive 5-3 win last night against Spokane was the start of a weekend that has been circled on the calendar since the schedule was released in August. The new top line of Ryan Aynsley, Tyler Robinson and Taylor Anderson was terrific last night, figuring in on all five Castlegar goals. The power-play practice over the past two weeks paid off as well, the Rebels went 4/7 with the man advantage last night.
Our Opponent: Fernie has risen to the top of the Eddie Mountain division with ease. The only blemish on their record, a 4-1 loss in Osoyoos on October 3rd. Fernie dismantled an understaffed Kimberley squad 8-3 at home last night, our friends at RiderNews have a write-up here. Offensively, Fernie is led by Trail's Thomas Abenante. He's having a terrific start to the campaign after missing much of last year's Trail Smoke Eaters season with an injury. Castlegar native Scott Morisseau, who led the KIJHL in scoring last year as a Beaver Valley Nitehawk, is another to watch for sure. The 'Riders also boast a trio of Californians who have made a splash in their KIJHL debut seasons: watch for Chase Golightly, Johnny Park and Alex Milhouse to be factors tonight. The goaltending tandem of Fraser Abdallah and Taylor Pears has been unbeatable as well.
In The Press Box: The Rebels will get Adam Smith back tonight, his one-game suspension is complete. Spencer Brodt will sit out the final game of his four-game ban this evening, but should be good to go next Friday night when these two teams do battle in Fernie. The Ghostriders are without forward Jordie Cool, who they acquired from Kelowna in the off-season. He was injured after a check from behind early in the season in a game against Creston Valley.
Broadcast Info: We'll have the webcast tonight on kijhl.ca, beginning at 7:30 Pacific time.
AP Watch: 17 year-old Langley product Ben Meadows should figure in the lineup again tonight for Castlegar. I thought his debut last night against Spokane got progressively better as the game went on, and he was rewarded with more minutes in the third period. Head coach Steve Junker rolled 4 defensemen through the middle of the game after Ryan Reid was tossed for fighting. I'm sure the lack of 5 on 5 play through much of the first two and a half periods also prevented Meadows from seeing a regular shift.
Fri. 10/29 @ Fernie, 6:30 PM (Pacific)
Sat. 11/06 vs. Kimberley, 7:30 PM
Sun. 11/07 vs. Golden, 2:00 PM
Fri. 11/12 @ Grand Forks, 7:30 PM
Sat. 11/13 vs. Creston Valley, 7:30 PM
Out of Town: Every other Neil Murdoch division team is in action in tonight's 8-game KIJHL sked. Nelson hosts Grand Forks (7:00, NDCC Arena), Beaver Valley is at Kamloops, and Spokane welcomes the Columbia Valley Rockies.