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.
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."