It's a battle of division leaders this afternoon in Revelstoke as the Rebels wrap up their three-game road trip against the defending Keystone Cup champion Grizzlies. Castlegar is coming off an impressive 6-0 whitewash of the Sicamous Eagles last night, while the Grizzlies hammered a short-staffed North Okanagan Knights club 10-1. Stuart Walton and Erik Wentzel each had a pair of goals last night for the Rebels, while the Grizzlies' Dayton Martens had a hat-trick and two assists in a game that saw his club pepper North Okanagan's net with 58 shots.
So far, so good though on this trip for Castlegar. Head coach Steve Junker told me earlier this week that it would be a test for his troops, as it's the first time the club has been on the road for an extended period this season. It's a much tougher litmus test today however, the Grizzlies come in to this afternoon's game with a record of 28-6, good for second overall in the KIJHL.
Today's game is also a homecoming for goaltender Cole Buckley. He spent last year backing up Andrew Parent in the Grizzlies' championship run, and was traded to Kimberley last month (for Tory Caldwell) after putting up 14 wins as Revelstoke's number one man this year.
Our Opponent: The Grizzlies, for sure, are impressive, and have plenty of bodies capable of putting biscuit to basket. Brendan Burge leads the attack with 45 points, but 20 year-olds Bruce Silvera and former Princeton sniper Brooks Christensen aren't far behind at 43 and 39 respectively. Reid Blinkhorn has put up 11 goals from the back end, 8 of which have come on the power play (which went 3/6 last night against the Knights). The team was also bolstered this week with the return of 19 year-old forward Riley Spraggs from Prince George of the BCHL. He has 2 goals in 2 games since coming back to Revelstoke. The goaltending tandem of Caldwell and Garrett Rockafellow has been rock-solid this year. Caldwell has a 2.21 GAA since arriving from Kimberley in November.
In the Press Box: The Rebels went with 7 defensemen with the return of Darren Tarasoff last night, and elected not to dress Spencer Brodt. We'll have to wait and see if that holds true this afternoon (I'll admit I didn't even notice until the middle of the second period last night). The Grizzlies were without Colton Dahlen, Brooks and TJ Christensen last night.
Broadcast Info: The Revelstoke crew has the webcast beginning at 2:00.
Fri. Dec. 17 vs. Spokane, 7:30 PM
Sat. Dec. 18 @ Spokane, 7:30 PM
Wed. Dec. 29 vs. Nelson, 7:30 PM
Sun. Jan. 2 @ Beaver Valley, 1:00 PM
Tue. Jan. 4 @ Grand Forks, 7:30 PM
Out of Town: All Neil Murdoch division teams are in action today. Grand Forks is at Nelson (a game for which you can join myself and 103.5 the Bridge's Matt Soper online at 1:00), while Beaver Valley and Spokane tangle at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA (despite it saying otherwise on the KIJHL site, Braves bench boss Mike Bay told me last week he was excited to play at the EWU rink).