Back to work after a week-long layoff, the Rebels jump right back into action against a division rival tonight at the Complex. Castlegar has taken all four games from the Nelson Leafs thus far this season, and come into tonight's game on a nine-game winning streak.
It's the start of a pivotal stretch for Castlegar (27-5-0-0). This time last year, the club was flying high, but stumbled after a three-week holiday layoff and crashed out of the first round of the playofffs. This year, the break is shorter, but the team will be hoping to continue their strong start. Considering that only 7 of their remaining games are on home ice, that test could be tougher.
Last Meeting: the two teams met just over a month ago in the Nelson Civic Centre's 75th anniversary special. It was the Rebels, however, who skated away with a 5-0 win thanks to a hat-trick from Ryan Aynsley and a shutout courtesy of current Fernie Ghostrider Andrew Walton.
Our Opponent: It'll be a much different Nelson squad than the one that visited Castlegar in mid-October. Former Brave Joel Stewart and former Dynamiter Brennan Foreman have provided added punch to a lineup led offensively by overager Gavin Currie (who has 42 points so far in 2010-11). Newcomer Evan Moir has some jump up front as well, while Riley Henderson, Tyler Parfeniuk and captain Taylor O'Neil are just three of the cogs on a veteran blueline. Goaltenders Marcus Beesley and Darren Hogg are rounding into form too.
Broadcast Info: join us for the webcast, as usual, at 7:30.
In the Press Box: Nelson, for all their new bodies, are still pretty banged up. Raymond Reimer hasn't played since September after suffering a knee injury, though I'm told he has started skating again. Forward Connor McLaughlin could be out a while after suffering an upper-body injury earlier this month. A pair of Leafs, Cody Abbey and Blake Arcuri, will sit tonight's game out with suspensions after a dust-up earlier this month against the Nitehawks. Rebels forward Spencer Brodt is doubtful after missing the last four games before Christmas.
Aynsley Rumours: Trail play-by-play man and my colleague Jon Zacks tweeted yesterday that Ryan Aynsley has left the Smoke Eaters to return to Castlegar. He is no longer on Trail's active or reserve roster, however, nothing is set in stone yet according to my sources. If he does wind up back in Rebel silks, he'd definitely bolster an already-potent offense, and add to his 53 points already amassed this season in Castlegar.