Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rebels 4 Braves 2

Back home after a long day on the bus, as Castlegar swept the weekend with a 4-2 win in Spokane over the Braves.

With the win, the Rebels clinch their first division title since 1996, and will have home-ice advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs, which as of today begin with a home date on Valentine's Day against Spokane.

Curtis Pereverzoff opened the scoring 4 minutes into the game, but A.J. King stuffed a loose puck home and moments later Tanner Slarks ripped a wrist shot past Rebels 'tender Cole Buckley to give the home side a 2-1 lead through 20 minutes.

Castlegar would answer back courtesy of Diego Bartlett early in the second, as he received a pretty cross-ice pass from Taylor Anderson to find the back of the Braves net and tie the score. Ryan Aynsley would put Castlegar ahead for good with just over 5 minutes left in the frame. He put a shot from the right side through Braves goalie Garrett Barr while on the power-play, and just over a minute later a Tyler Jones worm-burner from the point would extend the lead to two.

Although there was no scoring in the third, the final frame was not without its key moments. Slarks jumped Rebels forward Arthur Andrews at the 10:55 mark, earning the pair automatic one-game suspensions. Later in the period, Josh McGladery struck King in the visor with his stick, earning a major penalty, game misconduct, and almost certainly a multi-game suspension, despite referee Steve Fleming needing the assistance of his linesmen to make the call.

In the Press Box: Castlegar was without defencemen Mike Wiest and Corbin Legros. Spokane, in addition to head coach Mike Bay, was missing forwards Ryan Hadley-Schaal and Guisseppe Dippolito (suspensions), forward Mitch Fowler (injury) and defenceman Jacob Walsh (sick). A source tells me brothers Jacob and Jeremiah Holmes have left the team and returned to California, they both did not dress for any of Spokane's three games this weekend.

Out of Town: Beaver Valley swept their two game set with Nelson with a 6-5 win at the HawksNest, while Princeton edged Grand Forks 6-4.

Suspension Watch: In addition to the three Spokane suspensions mentioned above, a couple of infractions to report. Grand Forks d-man Brendan Jackson served the first of his three-game ban today, for a multi-fight and game misconducts, while Kelowna defenseman Branden Redschlag sat out the first of his two-game punishment today for a check from behind in the final ten minutes.

Tip of the Hat: to Braves broadcast director Vince Hughes and play-by-play man Rick Edwards, thanks kindly for the opportunity to work the game today. I had a lot of fun, and I hope those of you who tuned in this afternoon enjoyed the webcast as well. Can't wait for the playoffs!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rebels 4 Posse 0

Anthony DeLong's goal 3:37 into the second period opened the scoring, and proved to be the game-winner as Castlegar shut out the Princeton Posse 4-0 on home ice. DeLong snuck a backhand shot underneath Posse goaltender Brett Patchett to break a scoreless draw, while Erik Wentzel, Stuart Walton and Spencer Brodt added markers in the final ten minutes.

Alex Ross collected his third shutout of the season, having to parry a couple of mad scrambles as well as repeated efforts by Princeton's two noticeable AP callups, Eric Schmidt and Brendan Colter.

The Rebels were denied the chance to claim the Neil Murdoch regular-season crown, though, because Beaver Valley snuck past Nelson 3-2 at the NDCC Arena and remain within striking distance of the Rebels (albeit closing a 13-point gap in 7 games is a tough test).

Injury Concerns: Both teams picked up bumps and scrapes tonight. Rebels defenseman Mike Wiest did not see the ice in the third period (or if he did, it was sparingly) after taking a hard hit while releasing a shot in the second frame. Princeton's Brett Serpico did not see any ice-time in the final 40 minutes, and his was the only bag I spied on the Princeton bus as I walked out to my car after the game.

Up Next: Castlegar wraps up the weekend against the team they're likely to face in the first round of the playoffs when they visit Spokane tomorrow (2:00 PM, Eagles Ice-A-Rena). My apologies in advance if no gameday package is provided as I understand the bus is leaving fairly early tomorrow morning.

(photo courtesy Kim Magi, Castlegar News)

Gameday: Rebels vs. Posse

Part two of Castlegar's weekend trilogy goes tonight at the Complex as the Rebels and Princeton Posse meet for the only time this season.

Castlegar could mathematically clinch the Neil Murdoch division tonight, but they'll need some help to do it. Should the Rebels defeat Princeton, and Nelson wins at home to Beaver Valley tonight, the Rebels will win their first division crown since the 1995-96 season, which was also the year the franchise won its third and final KIJHL championship.

The team looks like they've bounced back after a miserable night in Nelson earlier this week. The Rebels peppered Kimberley's net with 49 shots in last night's 5-3 win. The line of Anthony DeLong, Stuart Walton and Tyler Robinson was flying, as evidenced by DeLong's two-point night.

Last Meeting:
These two clubs don't meet often. Ryan Aynsley scored twice in a 3-1 Rebel win on Dec. 11, 2009 in Princeton, but you have to go back to October of 2008 for the Posse's last visit to the Castlegar Complex.

Our Opponent: Princeton (14-24-3-3, 3rd Okanagan division) has had a week to prepare for this one, but with only 17 skaters on their active roster, could field a short bench for tonight's affair. Spencer Kristensen leads the way offensively with 43 points, while overagers Derrick Delisser and Nick Cecconi are hot on his tail with 38 and 36 respectively. With the departure of defenceman Lee Muir (I'm told he's the brother of Border Bruins goaltender Garrett Muir), Princeton has lost a fair bit of their offensive pop from the back end. Muir was the only Posse d-man to amass more than 10 points this season. Though Brett Patchett has been given the brunt of the workload, don't be surprised if 18 year-old rookie Sky Buller gets the start in goal tonight. He sits 7th among KIJHL goaltenders with a 2.92 GAA and sports an 8-2 record in 12 appearances.

Broadcast Info: As always, the webcast is available on the KIJHL site. Join me for the call beginning at 7:30.

In the Press Box: Both Curtis Pereverzoff and Aaron Brewer returned to the lineup last night; Pereverzoff had missed 7 games while Brewer stayed in civvies Tuesday night. Corbin Legros was the only scratch yesterday, and with a mostly healthy lineup, it looks like the odd man out will be a game-time decision.

Out of Town: An important affair for Rebel supporters is taking place up the road in Nelson, as mentioned earlier. Beaver Valley and Nelson will almost certainly meet in the first round (Nelson clinched third place last night), they'll play a home-and-home this evening (7:00, NDCC) and tomorrow afternoon in Fruitvale. The Rebels' next opponent, Spokane, is home to the Golden Rockets tonight (7:30, Eagles Ice-A-Rena). Princeton's first-round opponent, the Kelowna Chiefs, are in Grand Forks tonight (7:30, GF Arena) in game two of the post-Jesse Dorrans era in the Boundary.

AP Watch: Chiefs defenseman Bobby Brown dressed last night for the Quesnel Millionaires in their 4-3 loss in Trail. Alex Milhouse (FER) and Tye Sanford (REV) also skated for the Prince George Spruce Kings in their 5-4 overtime loss at Vernon, while Osoyoos' 16 year-old sensation Carter Rigby has accompanied Penticton on their Island road swing.

Bits & Bites: Former Rebel Adam Smith scored his first BCHL goal last night in Cowichan Valley's OT 7-6 loss at Powell River. Teammate Matt Ridley, who played twelve games in Castlegar earlier this season, added two tallies for the Capitals, while former Border Bruin Chad Niddery had 4 points for the Kings. A tip of the cap to Dynamiters goalie Wes McLeod, who I thought stood in well as Kimberley's colour commentator last night.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rebels 5 Dynamiters 3

A good start to a busy weekend as Castlegar dispatched Kimberley 5-3 in the East Kootenay tonight. Anthony DeLong converted a scramble play in front of the net to break a 2-2 tie midway through the second period, giving Castlegar a lead they would not relinquish.

The story of the game though, has to be Dynamiters 'tender Jeremy Muosseau, who stopped (unofficially) 46 shots in the Kimberley net, making several ten-bell saves. The 16 year-old was denied his first KIJHL victory in four starts, however.

Up Next: Princeton, at home, tomorrow night (7:30, Complex).

Out of Town: Nelson defeated Spokane 6-4, adding further fuel to the Rebels/Braves first-round playoff matchup possibility.

Gameday: Rebels @ Dynamiters

A busy weekend starts tonight for the Rebels, as they pay their only visit to the Bavarian City to take on the Kimberley Dynamiters (6:30 Pacific, Civic Centre). The Neil Murdoch division leaders will log a lot of kilometres (and miles Sunday) as they play three games in less than three days, in three different rinks.

It's also a chance for Castlegar to make some hay on conference-leading Fernie. The Ghostriders sit 6 points up on the Rebels at this juncture, though Castlegar will burn one of their two games in hand over the weekend.

Last Meeting: Nov. 6: in what might have been the most exciting third period at the Complex this season, Castlegar snuck past Kimberley 5-4 thanks to a Taylor Anderson winner with 13 seconds remaining. Kimberley had come all the way back just moments before from a 4-1 third period deficit.

Our Opponent: Kimberley (15-24-2-2, 4th Eddie Mountain division) has gone through a fair amount of change since the two clubs last met. Gone is head coach Garry Jacklin, along with the following players: Brennan Foreman (Creston Valley via Nelson), Alex Hall (Oceanside VIJHL), Soren Hills (released due to injury), Clayton Tilleman and Richard Hubscher (Whitecourt NWJHL), Kristian Petit (Airdrie HJHL), and goaltender Tory Caldwell (Revelstoke, and was traded for Rebels 'tender Cole Buckley to boot). Forward Ben Greenaway, who was a late cut from Trail's camp this year and didn't dress for the last meeting, is also now with North Okanagan. The Dynamiters are 6 points back of Golden for third place in the division. Overager Darrell Boldon leads the way offensively with 49 points, with Senate Patton (who I thought was terrific when the Nitros were here) is right on his tail with 48. Watch out for 16 year-old defenseman Bryce Perpelitz. He leads Kimberley's defence in scoring with 20 points and is a smooth-skating, agile blueliner who has also had a cup of coffee AP-ing in Trail. 17 year-old forward Olli Dickson leads the KIJHL in penalty minutes with 317. To put things in perspective, the Rebels' worst offender, Ryan Reid, sits 25th in the league with 141. Kimberley has lost 4 of its last 5 games, and have allowed 6 or more goals 8 times since December 1st.

Broadcast Info: Kimberley will cover the webcast duties tonight, beginning at 6:30. I'm in the process of working on something special for Sunday afternoon's game in Spokane too.

In the Press Box: The Rebels are relatively healthy, save forward Curtis Pereverzoff who has been out of the lineup since January 4th. He told me last week he was hoping to get back in action this weekend, but I haven't had a chance yet to get an update on his status. D-man Aaron Brewer was a healthy scratch Tuesday night against Nelson, we'll see if Castlegar goes back to a 7-defenseman formation tonight.

Out of Town:
Nelson visits Spokane in the only other Neil Murdoch division matchup tonight. The Braves are in tough if they want to avoid the Rebels in the first round. They sit 10 points behind third-place Nelson, each team has seven games remaining on their respective dockets.

Next 5:
Sat. Jan. 29 vs. Princeton, 7:30 PM
Sun. Jan. 30 @ Spokane, 2:00 PM
Tue. Feb. 1 vs. Beaver Valley, 7:30 PM
Fri. Feb. 4 @ Nelson, 7:00 PM
Sat. Feb. 5 vs. Nelson, 7:30 PM

Bits & Bites: Bruce Fuhr of the Nelson Daily writes an interesting article here on the possibility of the KIJHL's two conferences splitting into separate leagues. Personally, I think this would be a disaster for the KIJHL, albeit a return to roots. The point Fuhr makes about Okanagan players is valid, as I'm sure Nelson would love to have the services of both Landon Andrusiak and Dane Rupert this season. Look at the Kelowna-based players on Castlegar's roster and one can't help but wonder aloud if they'd choose to play closer to home if there was a separate league in the Okanagan. There are always exceptions to every rule, but BC's other two Junior B leagues consist of almost entirely Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island talent. With Chase and Summerland both back in the fold next year, it could be something to watch out for as the KIJHL's presence grows in the Thompson-Okanagan.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grand Forks Begins Search For New Coach

The Border Bruins have parted ways with head coach and GM Jesse Dorrans.

To call this a firing would, however, be incorrect. Dorrans reportedly tendered his resignation, effective at the end of the season, to hockey operations staff earlier this week.

The team then elected to relieve him of his duties effective immediately, so that the search for his replacement could get underway.

Dorrans took over from Rob Fitzpatrick in May of 2009. Prior to that he had been an assistant coach with Castlegar.

Assistants Matt Zamec and Tom Frith will co-coach the team for their final nine games.

Grand Forks (7-33-0-1) plays tonight in the only game on the KIJHL docket as they host Beaver Valley (7:30 PM, Grand Forks Arena).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Leafs 5 Rebels 3

A frustrating affair for the Castlegar Rebels tonight in Nelson, as their winning streak against the Leafs came to an abrupt end with a 5-3 loss at the NDCC Arena.

Dustin Johnson's long wrister 26 seconds into the third period stood as the game-winner. It fooled Rebels goaltender Alex Ross, glancing off his shoulder into the back of the net to give the Leafs a two-goal advantage after blowing an early 2-0 lead. Though Mike Wiest cut it to 4-3 a few minutes later, the Leafs would get an empty-net bankshot from Colton Malmsten to seal the deal.

Braeden Hikichi, Colton Schell and Cody Abbey also scored for Nelson, while Stuart Walton and Erik Wentzel added tallies for Castlegar.

The gap could have been a lot wider were it not for several ten-bell saves from Ross in the first two periods. Castlegar, to me, looked a bit flat, and were easily frustrated by a Leafs squad that doled out plenty of punishment and plenty of trash-talk. Both teams also seemed quite at odds with some intriguing non-calls from tonight's referee, as was the large crowd of about 400 fans.

Nelson also did a good job of blocking shooting lanes, and limited the Rebels to only 7 shots over the final 40 minutes. It was a much more consistent effort, and a much different Leafs team than the one that was obliterated 9-0 at the Complex a month ago.

For Castlegar, the best medicine is perhaps the upcoming busy weekend. The Rebels play three times in three days, beginning with a rare visit to Kimberley Friday night.

Gameday: Rebels @ Leafs

One of the better rivalries in the KIJHL opens another chapter tonight in Nelson as the Rebels pay a visit to the Leafs (7:00, NDCC Arena). It's been a fairly one-sided season series this year though: Castlegar has won all 5 meetings between the two teams, most recently dispatching the Leafs 9-0 in the first game after the Christmas break.

Castlegar will get a couple of key offensive contributors back tonight as Ryan Aynsley and Spencer Brodt return from suspension. The team has had no trouble finding the back of the net without them, though. Take for instance, the fact that Anthony DeLong, Mike Wiest and Tyler Robinson have combined for 21 points in the Rebels' past three games.

Last Meeting: It seems like ages ago, but it's been less than a month since the Rebels got back to work with that aforementioned 9-0 win on December 29th. AP callup Jesse Knowler had 4 points, including the game-winner, while Alex Ross and Cole Buckley combined for the shutout.

Our Opponent: The Leafs (22-17-0-3, 3rd Neil Murdoch division) appear set in their current position in the division standings, 8 points behind Beaver Valley and 8 points ahead of Spokane. Nelson is without leading scorer Gavin Currie, who has started skating again, and number one goaltender Darren Hogg, meaning Marcus Beesley should get the nod again in goal tonight. Currie's production has been supplanted nicely by Dustin Johnson. The former BCHL sniper has 7 goals in 8 games with the Leafs. Given the penalty minute totals of some Leafs (Taylor O'Neil and Colten Malmsten are #4 and #5 in the KIJHL with 232 and 222 PIMs respectively), it may not come as a shock that Nelson is the most penalized team in the KIJHL.

Broadcast Info: Join myself and my Mountain FM/103.5 the Bridge colleague Matt Soper for the webcast tonight at 7:00.

Next 5:
Fri. Jan. 28 @ Kimberley, 6:30 Pacific
Sat. Jan. 29 vs. Princeton, 7:30 PM
Sun. Jan. 30 @ Spokane, 2:00 PM
Tue. Feb. 1 vs. Beaver Valley, 7:30 PM
Fri. Feb. 4 @ Nelson, 7:00 PM

Bits & Bites: Former Braves F Tyler Mort has found a new home a bit further east down I-90. He's skating with the NORPAC's Missoula Maulers. Beaver Valley has signed ex-Vernon Viper and Victoria Grizzlies defenseman Taylor Love, while North Okanagan has inked fellow Californian Mateja Leko. The Rebels first playoff game will be on February 14th, if the standings stay static it will be a rematch from last year against Spokane.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rebels 8 Chiefs 3

Anthony DeLong had a hat-trick, including two short-handed goals, as the Rebels dispatched a fiesty Kelowna Chiefs squad 8-3 at the Complex.

After falling behind early on a pretty goal by Kelowna's Tanner Clarkson, the Rebels stormed back with 5 power-play goals including a pair by DeLong's linemate Tyler Robinson. Taylor Anderson, Erik Wentzel and Mike Wiest also tallied for Castlegar (34-6-0-0), while Branden Redschlag and Jordan Wood replied for the Chiefs (21-19-1-2).

Cole Buckley shook off some early nerves in his first start at home since joining the Rebels to pick up his 20th victory of the season. Jordan Bytelaar, in his 75th KIJHL appearance, allowed 7 Rebel goals before losing his temper on Wentzel and being replaced by Conor Barrie.

The two teams combined for 17 power-plays in what was most certainly a chippy affair. Tyler Jones was ejected in the first period, while Kelowna's Jeremy Wiebe was surprisingly handed only a double-minor after dropping his gloves and unloading on Wentzel early in the third period.

Aside from the obvious top performers, I thought Jamie Vlanich had a strong, hard-working game again tonight. Corbin Legros also showed some early jitters but settled down in increased ice-time as the game went on. Landon Andrusiak was buzzing for Kelowna as well; the former Leaf had 2 assists.

Up Next: The Rebels will welcome back suspended Ryan Aynsley and Spencer Brodt when they visit Nelson Tuesday night. If you're not coming to the rink, join my colleague from Mountain FM/103.5 the Bridge Matt Soper and myself for the call on KIJHL pay-per-view.

Out of Town: The Leafs were beaten 2-1 in overtime by Beaver Valley tonight, with Nelsonite Ryon Sookro providing the winner. The Rebels, though, maintain their 13-point lead over the Nitehawks with 3 head-to-head matchups still remaining (two of those being at home).

Gameday: Rebels vs. Chiefs

It's the first-ever meeting between the Kelowna Chiefs and Castlegar Rebels tonight at the Complex (7:30 PM). Of course, the two clubs have played on several occasions when the Chiefs were based in Chase, but the franchise relocated to the Rutland Arena over the off-season.

Both teams are on mini-streaks heading into tonight's matchup. Castlegar has won 5 straight games including a 4-1 victory last night in Spokane, while the Chiefs have won their last four including a wild 8-6 barnburner yesterday evening in Nelson.

The Rebels can inch one step closer to clinching the Neil Murdoch division tonight. They lead Beaver Valley by 13 points (with a game in hand), and trail Fernie by 6 points (with three games in hand) for the overall Kootenay Conference lead. They'll have to go at it tonight without both Ryan Aynsley and Spencer Brodt. They have both been suspended for separate checking from behind major penalties.

Last Meeting: You'd have to go all the way back to November 13, 2009, when the Rebels got an OT winner from current UFV Cascade (BCIHL) Andrew Shaw to win 6-5 at Chase's Art Holding Arena.

Our Opponent: Kelowna (21-18-1-2, 2nd Okanagan Division) is coming off an 8-6 win in Nelson last night that saw former Leafs Dane Rupert and Landon Andrusiak combine for seven points. Andrusiak leads the team with 49 points, while Colten DeFrias (who had a hat-trick last night) is second with 35. 16 year-old defenseman Turner Lawson has been turning heads. He has 12 points from the back end, and sits second on the team with 118 penalty minutes, though if new Chief (and former Prince George Spruce King) defenseman Jeremy Wiebe had been with the club all year, I'd wager he'd be near the top too. He has 32 PIMs in 2 games thus far. The Chiefs' two goaltenders, Jordan Bytelaar and Conor Barrie, have virtually split their appearances this year, the elder Bytelaar played last night.

Webcast: As always, join us for all the action at beginning at 7:30.

In the Press Box: The Chiefs are without forward Brandon Briere and defenseman (and former BV Nitehawk) Brett Naka, while Castlegar (as mentioned earlier) will have to make do without Aynsley and Brodt tonight, but both are eligible to return Tuesday. Curtis Pereverzoff tells me he's hoping to get back in the lineup soon too.

Out of Town: Plenty of action around the league tonight with 7 games in all. None bigger (from our standpoint) than in Nelson, where the Leafs host Beaver Valley (7:00, NDCC Arena). The Leafs could move to within 5 points of the Nitehawks with a victory tonight. Also, Kimberley hosts Columbia Valley. With a win, the Dynamiters could eliminate the Rockies from post-season contention.

Next 5:
Tue. Jan. 25 @ Nelson, 7:00 PM
Fri. Jan. 28 @ Kimberley, 6:30 Pacific
Sat. Jan. 29 vs. Princeton, 7:30 PM
Sun. Jan. 30 @ Spokane, 2:00 PM
Tue. Feb. 1 vs. Beaver Valley, 7:30 PM

Bits & Bites: Fans in Chase can get a bit of a sense of what their new KIJHL franchise will look like here. The Heat begin play in 2011-12, as does the as-yet unnamed team from Summerland. I chatted with Jonathan Bowman, the man bringing Junior B hockey back to that community, listen to the interview here. Nelson and Creston Valley won't be heading to Whitehorse after all. The Nelson Daily's Bruce Fuhr reports the trip has been post-poned because the WHL's Vancouver Giants and Kamloops Blazers will be heading north as part of Hockey Day in Canada the same weekend. The Leafs and Thunder Cats will play a home-and-home series the weekend of February 11th and 12th instead.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rebels 4 Braves 1

Tyler Jones put home a power-play goal with just over four minutes remaining in the second period, and Stuart Walton and Anthony DeLong added third period tallies 31 seconds apart to lift the Rebels to a 4-1 win in Spokane tonight.

Diego Bartlett also scored for Castlegar, while Alex Ross made 28 saves between the pipes in his first action in two weeks. Rance Hughes' breakaway goal late in the first period was the only puck that beat the Montrose native.

This one started out with some punch. Forward Spencer Brodt and Braves captain Nick Redding were both tossed five minutes in; the former for a check from behind, the latter for dropping the gloves in retaliation.

Until Walton and DeLong broke it open though, tonight's game was a tight defensive battle and a good preview of what we could potentially see in the first round of the KIJHL playoffs (if the standings stay static until the end of the year, the Rebels and Braves would indeed meet). The two clubs will go it again once more in the regular season next Sunday in a game I'm hoping to make the trip to the Lilac City for.

Castlegar was without leading scorer Ryan Aynsley, who served the first of his two-game suspension. Curtis Pereverzoff also sat out, while I didn't notice Kwinn Mazzilli get much ice time after the first period.

Up Next: The Rebels welcome the Kelowna Chiefs for their only meeting of the season tomorrow night (7:30 PM, Complex). More on them below.

Where Are They Now: Old Rebels teammates have reunited in Duncan. Adam Smith was already there, but defenseman Matt Ridley had a pair of assists tonight in his 5th game with the BCHL's Cowichan Valley Capitals. Smith, by the way, scrapped with former Penticton Laker Lars Hepso tonight, as Alberni Valley beat the Caps 4-3. Another former KIJHL face moving on up is former Coyotes tender Billy McGladrey, who's now the backup netminder for the BCHL's Coquitlam Express. Former BV Nitehawk Kyle St. Denis was held off the scoresheet tonight in his Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL) debut.

Out of Town: In the only other Neil Murdoch Division matchup of the night, Nelson fell 8-6 at home to Kelowna in a wild one. Colten DeFrias had a hat-trick, and Dane Rupert chipped in with 4 points against his former Leafs teammates.

Gameday: Rebels @ Braves

A snowy trip south this afternoon for the Rebels as they pay a visit to the Spokane Braves. Fresh off a win Tuesday over Grand Forks, Castlegar will look to open the weekend with a bang despite lacking the services of leading scorer Ryan Aynsley. The 20 year-old has been suspended for two games after receiving a checking from behind major late in Tuesday's victory.

And after a long layoff, the games will come fast and furious for Steve Junker's troops. The Rebels play 7 games in the next 12 days, 5 of which are being played within the Neil Murdoch division.

Last Meeting:
Even though the last trip to Spokane may have resulted in the Rebels getting two points, it was far from the type of experience they'd like to repeat. An 8-7 win on December 18th put the Rebels into the holiday break on a winning note, but it was almost an epic collapse as, at one point the Rebels had a 7-3 lead in the contest.

Our Opponent:
Spokane (18-20-1-2, 4th Neil Murdoch division) have struggled to find a consistent offensive presence this season. 19 year-old Rance Hughes, who represented the club at the All-Star game in Fernie, leads the team with 21 goals and 37 points. Forward Jeremiah Holmes made his return to the Braves lineup last week after missing 6 games with an injury incurred when he was hit by Rebels defenseman Erik Alden on December 17th. Since the last time these two clubs have met, the Braves have also parted ways with forward Tyler Mort, who had 6 points in 7 games. Head coach Mike Bay has told me repeatedly this season his club has been looking for a defenseman; they may have found their man in overager Jacob Walsh. The 20 year-old last played for the Braves in 2008-09, and had a brief stint in the NAHL with the Alexandria Blizzard that season too.

Broadcast Info:
The Braves crew will have the webcast beginning at 8:00. ***UPDATE*** It is an 8:00 start despite what the KIJHL website says, I've been given confirmation from a Braves source.

In the Press Box: Castlegar, as mentioned, is without Aynsley tonight. Spencer Brodt and Curtis Pereverzoff are also questionable.

Out of Town: Only one other Neil Murdoch team is in action tonight. Nelson welcomes the Kelowna Chiefs (who of course are the Rebels next opponent tomorrow night). Former Leafs Dane Rupert and Landon Andrusiak make their return to the NDCC Arena.

Bits & Bites:
Former Beaver Valley Nitehawk Kyle St. Denis will reportedly make his Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL) debut tonight. Stay tuned to Mountain FM through the afternoon for St. Denis' take. Border Bruins d-man Derek Grimm, who was hit from behind by Aynsley in Tuesday's game, did not play last night in Grand Forks' 5-3 loss at home to Nelson.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Aynsley Suspended 2 Games

The KIJHL has handed down a 2-game suspension to Rebels forward Ryan Aynsley for a checking from behind major and game misconduct incurred late in Tuesday's 5-1 win over Grand Forks.

The incident happened late in the third period, when Aynsley hit Border Bruins defenseman Derek Grimm near the Rebel blue line. Grimm stayed down for several seconds before leaving the ice under his own power.

Aynsley will miss games Friday night in Spokane and Saturday at home to the Kelowna Chiefs (7:30 PM, Complex).

Under KIJHL rules, any check from behind (minor or major) comes with an automatic game misconduct. A new league mandate also stipulates any game misconduct assessed within the final ten minutes of regulation time carries an automatic suspension.

The game archive is not yet available on the KIJHL website.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rebels 5 Border Bruins 1

Anthony DeLong scored twice, and 15 year-old AP Jarrod Schamerhorn picked up his second career KIJHL win as the Rebels dispatched Grand Forks 5-1.

DeLong opened the scoring 17 seconds into the second period, converting a one-time pass from Tyler Robinson before adding the eventual game-winner at the 11:05 mark. Kwinn Mazzilli, Robinson and Stuart Walton also scored for Castlegar (32-6-0-0), while Zach Thompson replied for the Border Bruins.

The game was not without physicality. Ryan Reid and Cody Larsen were tossed 1:12 into the game for fighting, after the latter took exception to the former's check on Artsiom Kalashnikov. Diego Bartlett and Colton Mills scrapped in the second, before Kalashnikov took on Jamie Vlanich in the third.

Suspension Looming: Rebels forward Ryan Aynsley had a frustrating night. After hitting a post and being stoned by Bruins goaltender Ryan Ryman on several occasions, the 20 year-old from Kelowna was assessed a checking from behind major late in the third period for a hit on Grand Forks defenseman Derek Grimm. He'll sit at least one game (Friday at Spokane) for receiving a game misconduct within the final ten minutes. The rest, as they say, is up to the judges, though thankfully Grimm left the ice under his own power (he was hit hard earlier in the game by Taylor Anderson too).

Worthy of Mentioning: I thought Schamerhorn's AP teammate Joren Johnson did an admirable job on the back end. The Kootenay Ice major midget had several good poke-checks and used his size to his advantage against some smaller Bruins forwards, including Thompson. Erik Wentzel worked hard again tonight too, and Walton's goal was entirely created by Wentzel's persistent forechecking and a hard pass into the slot. Dylan Sahara also continues to impress me for Grand Forks. The 17 year-old has shown improvement in all facets of his game each time I've seen the Border Bruins.

Up Next: The Rebels visit Spokane Friday night (7:30, Eagles Ice-A-Rena) before hosting the Kelowna Chiefs Saturday (7:30, Complex).

Bits & Bites: Curtis Pereverzoff tells me he's hoping to return this weekend, but next week's games are a safer bet. I didn't see Spencer Brodt at the rink tonight, I'm told he's been ill. The Border Bruins were without Yan Kalashnikov and Nick Van Damme tonight. I interviewed Jonathan Bowman this afternoon, he's the man bringing the KIJHL back to Summerland next season. Watch for that on Mountain FM's Overtime and this blog as the week continues.

Gameday: Rebels vs. Border Bruins

The Rebels and Border Bruins tangle for the seventh time this season in the first Rebels home game since December 29th.

It's back to work for Castlegar, who last played ten days ago in Invermere, and after a long layoff to heal illness and wounds, the Rebels will (hopefully) be replenished and revitalized for the stretch run.

As it stands, Castlegar sits 6 points back of Fernie for the Kootenay Conference lead, but have three games in hand and hold the tie-breaker having won the season series.

No question who the leader is in the Rebels/Border Bruins season series, however. Castlegar has won all 6 meetings, although several have been much closer than anyone on this side of the Paulson would like.

Last Meeting: Castlegar visited Grand Forks on January 4th. Two third-period goals by Taylor Anderson and Kwinn Mazzilli sealed the deal in a 3-1 Rebel victory.

Our Opponent: Grand Forks (7-31-0-1) will have to spend the rest of the season playing spoiler. They've been officially eliminated from the playoffs, sitting 24 points behind Spokane. All-Star Zac Thompson leads the Border Bruin attack with 26 goals, though no other Grand Forks player has more than 13. Derek Grimm leads a defensive corps that is now without 19 year-old Lucas Hildebrand (who was shipped to Revelstoke at the deadline). Grimm though, didn't skate in Grand Forks' last game, Wednesday night in Nelson. Goaltender Ryan Ryman was terrific the last time the Rebels took on Grand Forks.

Broadcast Info: Join us for the webcast from the Complex beginning at 7:30.

In the Press Box: We'll have to wait and see whether Darren Tarasoff, Ryan Reid, Curtis Pereverzoff and Arthur Andrews make their returns tonight. They all missed last weekend's East Kootenay swing. Grand Forks is likely still without forward Mike Brewer, who was injured in a loss at Kimberley earlier this month.

Next 5:
Fri. Jan. 21 @ Spokane, 7:30 PM
Sat. Jan. 22 vs. Kelowna, 7:30 PM
Tue. Jan. 25 @ Nelson, 7:00 PM
Fri. Jan. 28 @ Kimberley, 6:30 Pacific
Sat. Jan. 29 vs. Princeton, 7:30 PM

Out of Town: Only one other game on the KIJHL schedule tonight. Golden and Kimberley, both jockeying for position to see who won't face Fernie in the first round of the playoffs, tangle at the Golden Arena tonight. The Rockets have a 6-point edge on the Dynamiters for third in the Eddie Mountain division.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

All-Star Game: Kootenay 10 Okanagan 3

A pretty one-sided affair tonight in Fernie.

Ryan Aynsley had four points, including the eventual game-winner as the Kootenay Conference defeated the Okanagan Conference 10-3 in the annual KIJHL All-Star Game.

It was Aynsley's Rebels teammate and former Ghostrider Mike Wiest however, who was named Kootenay Conference Player of the Game, scoring twice and adding an assist.

Rebels captain Taylor Anderson also scored.

Thanks to RiderNews for posting the gamesheet, here's a summary of the night's events.

Okanagan: Rockafellow, Bytelaar, Stanwood, Skinner, Dahlen, Ollek, Laird, Kipp, Friedrich, Christensen, Silvera, Ahn, Perger, Hascarl, Andrusiak, Minardi, Martine, Wood, Hawgood, Blinkhorn, Arnold, Bodeux, House.
Kootenay: Walton, Abdallah, Henderson, McDougall, O'Neil, Lashuk, Sookro, Abenante, Wright, Aynsley, Thompson, Dawe, Morisseau, Hughes, Anderson, MacDonald, Hynes, Fairall, Wiest, Zmurchyk.

First Period
KTN Morisseau 1 (Aynsley, Fairall) 3:18
KTN Wiest 1 (Thompson, Hughes) 6:45
KTN Fairall 1 (Morisseau, Henderson) 6:58
KTN Aynsley 1 (Fairall, Morisseau) 12:23

Second Period
KTN MacDonald 1 (Abenante, Hughes) 4:01
OKA Minardi 1 (Andrusiak, Arnold) 4:25
OKA Silvera 1 (unassisted) 5:36
Wiest KTN (tripping) 11:36.

Third Period
OKA Hascarl 1 (House, Andrusiak) 1:39
KTN Aynsley 2 (Morisseau, Sookro) 6:16
KTN Wiest 2 (Abenante, Aynsley) 9:38
KTN O'Neil 1 (Hynes, McDougall) 12:37
KTN Anderson 1 (Dawe, MacDonald) 14:35
KTN Hynes 1 (Thompson, Wiest) 18:16

Shots on Goal: N/A.
Power Plays: Okanagan: 0/1; Kootenay: 0/0.
Coaches: Okanagan: Dale Hladun, Rylan Ferster; Kootenay: Will Verner.

Morisseau, Walton Audio: All-Star Game Tonight

Two Castlegar products are representing the Fernie Ghostriders in tonight's KIJHL All-Star Game. Scott Morisseau was shipped to the Elk Valley just prior to the start of the season from Beaver Valley, while goaltender Andrew Walton was dealt by the Rebels for Mike Wiest and Jamie Vlanich last month.

Both 19 year-olds have found success in their new homes. Morisseau sits third in KIJHL scoring with 68 points (26-42), while Walton has posted an 8-2 record and a sparkling 1.61 GAA since joining the 'Riders.

I caught up with both yesterday:

for Morisseau, click here.

for Walton, click here.

Tonight's game will be webcast for free, join the Fernie crew beginning at 7:00 Pacific time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Prospects Game: Okanagan 6 Kootenay 4

Thierry Martine scored twice, and Turner Lawson added three assists as the Okanagan Conference overcame a third-period deficit to defeat the Kootenay Conference in the KIJHL Prospects Game.

Beaver Valley's Dallas Calvin had a hat-trick in a losing effort, while Rebels forward Diego Bartlett chipped in with two assists in a game that saw several Okanagan All-Stars do double duty for their colleagues who were sidetracked by travel issues.

Photo from RiderNews

Here's the game summary from tonight's action in Fernie:

Okanagan: Laslo, Hanna, Krolik, Halls, Leschuk, Nigg, Kristensen, Muir, Holliday, Clarkson, Rigby, Martine, Lawson, House, Chore, Burton, Mancuso, Janzen, Jensen.
Kootenay: Ross, Waldhaus, Pacheco, DeFrias, Pilton, Perpelitz, Wallace, Dobransky, Nickles, Enright, Vlanich, Bartlett, Collins, Formosa, Edwards, Calvin, Cochrane, Strand, Revie.

First Period
KTN Calvin 1 (Enright, Pacheco) 4:58 (pp)
Penalties: Rigby OKA (tripping) 3:12; Calvin KTN (hooking) 18:15; Halls OKA (hooking) 19:47.

Second Period
OKA Halls 1 (Holliday) 1:58
KTN Calvin 2 (Cochrane, Bartlett) 2:27
OKA Martine 1 (Muir, Lawson) 16:54 (pp)
OKA Chore 1 (Mancuso, Leschuk) 18:32 (pp)
Janzen OKA (tripping) 10:15; Formosa KTN (interference) 14:57; Vlanich KTN (hooking) 17:50.

Third Period
KTN Collins 1 (Strand) 0:46
KTN Calvin 3 (Perpelitz, Bartlett) 3:19
OKA Martine 2 (Muir, Lawson) 6:36 (sh)
OKA Leschuk 1 (unassisted) 7:18 (sh)
OKA Rigby 1 (Muir, Lawson) 19:43 (en)
Penalties: House OKA (goaltender interference) 6:14; Krolik OKA (interference) 8:38; Revie KTN (hooking) 10:43; Mancuso OKA (interference) 17:01.

Shots On Goal:
not listed.
Power Plays: Okanagan: 2/4; Kootenay: 1/6.
Okanagan: Dale Hladun. Kootenay: Chris Shaw, Steve Junker.

6 Rebels Taking Part in All-Star Weekend

The contingent of Rebels have arrived in Fernie for this weekend's All-Star festivities. Diego Bartlett (pictured), Jamie Vlanich and Alex Ross are skating in tonight's Prospects Game (7:00 PT, Fernie Memorial Arena), while Ryan Aynsley, Taylor Anderson and Mike Wiest will all represent the Kootenay Conference in tomorrow's All-Star Game (7:00, Fernie Memorial Arena).

I chatted with Bartlett this morning in advance of the weekend, hear that interview here. I have tape as well from Castlegar products Scott Morisseau and Andrew Walton, who are both representing the Ghostriders in tomorrow's All-Star game. I'll post it once it airs on Mountain FM.

Not making the trip is overage defenceman Darren Tarasoff, who has a lower-body injury that has kept him out of the lineup for the last three games. He's been replaced by Nelson defenceman Riley Henderson, who is the subject of a nice write-up by Nelson Daily sportswriter Bruce Fuhr.

A reminder the webcasts for this weekend's All-Star games are both free of charge.

Summerland In: BC Hockey has given approval for the KIJHL's 20th franchise to begin play in Summerland next year. Of course, the former Sting called Summerland home for several years before moving to Penticton in 2009. As far as I know, no name has been chosen yet. The Chase Heat will also join the KIJHL for the 2011-12 season.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rebels Stay Quiet, Walton Audio and More

Monday's KIJHL trade deadline came and went without the Rebels making any moves. Here's a brief run-down on the player movement around the league, as best I can decipher it.

NELSON: sent F Brennan Foreman to Creston Valley for futures. They also traded F Connor McLaughlin to Fernie for futures (even though he's injured, looks to me like the 'Riders are adding him for the Cyclone Taylor Cup).

REVELSTOKE: snagged D Lucas Hildebrand from Grand Forks. The Grizz also lost F Riley Spraggs to the AJHL's Drumheller Dragons.

OSOYOOS: acquired F Stephen Hynes from Columbia Valley. Also picked up G Shanson Lunny from Squamish (PIJHL).

SPOKANE: acquired F Dylan Solberg from Creston Valley.

BEAVER VALLEY: signed F J.W. Caron, who had been with the Wetaskiwin Icemen of the Capital Junior Hockey League (AB).

KIMBERLEY: traded F Clayton Tilleman and F Richard Hubscher to Whitecourt (NWJHL). Acquired F Sandro Moser from Golden.

Walton Talks: I caught up with Rebels forward Stuart Walton, who last week was named Kootenay Conference Player of the Month for December. Hear that interview here.

Out of Town: The Nelson Leafs host Grand Forks tonight. The 100 or so people displaced by last week's Kerr's Apartment Fire in Nelson are all being offered free admission to the game, and I'm told fundraising efforts to add to the already impressive amount donated by the community will continue inside the building.

Bits & Bites: Rebels defenseman Darren Tarasoff will reportedly skip this weekend's All-Star game. No word on who will replace him though word is it won't be a Rebel. Nelson will likely be without goaltender Darren Hogg for the rest of the year after he suffered a leg injury Saturday night in Golden. No word on a return for Border Bruins forward Mike Brewer, who went crashing into the boards Thursday night in Kimberley, causing a lengthy delay. Kimberley also lost forward Ryan Georgopoulos, who went to Calgary to pursue his education. Former Leaf Mitch Labreche has signed with Victoria of the BCHL, he had been with Simon Fraser University (BCIHL). Former Rebel Keagan Little made his debut with Okanagan College (BCIHL) last weekend as well. Another former Rebel, Ryan Renz, was dealt in the BCHL trading frenzy Monday, twice! He went from Alberni Valley to Prince George, before being whisked away from the Spruce Kings by the Vernon Vipers. Renz has also been named on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term rankings released this week. The d-man is ranked 208th among North American skaters.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rebels 5 Rockies 2

In a game that will hardly be remembered as a classic, the Rebels managed a perfect weekend with a 5-2 win in Invermere tonight against the Columbia Valley Rockies. Ryan Aynsley scored his first two goals since returning to the team, his first standing as the game-winner, as Castlegar outchanced and outplayed a Rockies squad mired in the basement of the Eddie Mountain division.

Tyler Jones, Jamie Vlanich and Stuart Walton also scored for Castlegar, while Alex Ross collected the win in goal. Tryg Strand and Stephen Hynes replied for the Rockies.

Spencer Brodt returned to the lineup for the Rebels after missing almost a month with an injury. The team was without Ryan Reid, Darren Tarasoff, Curtis Pereverzoff and Arthur Andrews, all of whom missed last night's game in Golden as well.

Aynsley an All-Star?: Fernie's blogger is reporting on Twitter that Aynsley will take the place of injured Nelson Leafs forward Gavin Currie in next weekend's All-Star festivities in the Elk Valley. Nothing official is up on the KIJHL site yet, however.

Up Next: The Rebels are off until after the All-Star break, they host Grand Forks on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Gameday: Rebels @ Rockies

After the 4-1 win in Golden last night, the Rebels are flying high heading into a matchup with the Columbia Valley Rockies in Invermere this evening (6:30 Pacific, Eddie Mountain Arena). Like last night, it's the second of only two meetings between the clubs, and like last night, it's a season series in which Castlegar holds a 1-0 advantage. It's also the final game for Castlegar before next weekend's All-Star festivities in Fernie.

Despite facing a team this evening that has only won 8 games this year, it could be a close affair (if the meeting in Castlegar was anything to go by). Not only that, but with 4 key bodies potentially out of the lineup, the Rebels' veteran-laden squad could again be playing with a bit of a short bench against a Rockies team that isn't afraid to rough-house.

Last Meeting: A night after a disappointing loss to Kamloops, the Rebels and Rockies tangled at the Complex on November 20th. And after spotting Columbia Valley a 2-0 lead, the Rebels stormed back for a 6-3 win (a Tyler Robinson goal with 4 seconds left in the second period put the home side up for good).

Our Opponent: Rob Rice's squad (8-26-0-4, 5th Eddie Mountain division) have been decimated by injuries this season, and have struggled at times to find their offensive touch, especially after shipping veteran sniper Darrell Boldon away for the second season in a row. Stephen Hynes is the only Rockie with more than 25 points this season (by contrast the Rebels have 8), but 17 year-old rookie Tryg Strand (who skated with the MML Kootenay Ice last year) is showing promise in his first full year in junior hockey. Former Border Bruin Jake Halderman has spent the year reacquainting himself with the penalty boxes around the league. After leading the circuit in PIMs last year, he currently sits 2nd in the KIJHL with 256 (only Kimberley's Olli Dickson has more). Another former Border Bruin, goaltender Tyler Stamler, seems to be getting the bulk of the starts in goal (he played in the 5-4 OT loss in Creston last night too), but Jarvis Bender was terrific in the loss when Columbia Valley came to Castlegar earlier this year.

Broadcast Info: The Rockies' crew has the call on at 6:30 Pacific time.

In the Press Box: Castlegar dressed only 15 skaters last night, as they were missing Spencer Brodt, Ryan Reid, Darren Tarasoff, Arthur Andrews and Curtis Pereverzoff to an assortment of knocks including sickness I'm told. To the best of my knowledge, no APs made the trip with the team this weekend.

Next 5:
Tue. Jan. 18 vs. Grand Forks, 7:30 PM
Fri. Jan. 21 @ Spokane, 7:30 PM
Sat. Jan. 22 vs. Kelowna, 7:30 PM
Tue. Jan. 25 @ Nelson, 7:00 PM
Fri. Jan. 28 @ Kimberley, 6:30 Pacific

Out of Town: Only one Neil Murdoch division team, Beaver Valley, has the night off. Grand Forks is in Sicamous tonight for their only date with the Eagles, while Nelson follows the Rebels' tracks into Golden. Spokane hosts Creston Valley in a game that could well be the season debut for '90 D Jacob Walsh. He skated with the Braves during the 2008-09 season. Another matchup to watch tonight sees Kamloops visit Osoyoos. The Storm doubled up Revelstoke 6-3 last night, and the Coyotes will likely be without one of their better d-men, after Matt Guerts got involved in a scrap with Kelowna's Colten DeFrias at the end of the game last night according to the summary. Former Dynamiter sniper Corey Allen made his Coyotes debut last night too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Rebels 4 Rockets 1

Tyler Jones scored 58 seconds into the third period, and Tyler Robinson and Erik Wentzel added insurance markers as the Rebels kicked off the weekend with a 4-1 win in Golden.

Jamie Vlanich and the Rockets' Keith Wake exchanged second-period power-play markers, and Cole Buckley stopped 23 shots to earn his fifth victory in a Rebel sweater.

The win was Castlegar's 30th this season as the club tries to keep pace with the other division leaders, Fernie, Osoyoos and Revelstoke.

Short Bench: Castlegar was without several vets tonight. Spencer Brodt again was out of the lineup, and defensemen Darren Tarasoff and Ryan Reid both missed the game as did Arthur Andrews.

More Accolades For #7: Word tonight that Stuart Walton has been named the Kootenay Conference Player of the Month for December, after being nominated as the Rebels rep earlier this week. I've had many a conversation with head coach Steve Junker about the 18 year-old local product, and I'll iterate again he's been a pleasant surprise to me this season, rounding into form after being cemented in the team's bottom 6 last year. Walton's Okanagan Conference counterpart this month is Coyotes 'tender Kyle Laslo.

Up Next:
A trip south to Invermere to face the Columbia Valley Rockies tomorrow night, although the club will have to navigate highways being mentioned in the news as being particularly sketchy with all the recent snow.

Out of Town: Nelson's trip to Fernie didn't go as well as they'd hoped. Josh Garneau had 4 points in a 7-1 Ghostriders shellacking. Notable, Dustin Johnson scored his second goal in as many games for the Leafs. Fernie went 5/11 on the power-play.

Gameday: Rebels @ Rockets

A long trip today for the Rebels as they finish off their season series with Golden tonight (6:30 Pacific, Golden Arena). Castlegar is coming off a 3-1 win in Grand Forks Tuesday in a game that hung in the balance until a couple of quick goals midway through the third period. It's the third of four straight away from home, as the Rebels play tonight and tomorrow before a 10-day layoff sandwiching the All-Star break.

The Rebels are 6-1 thus far in 2010-11 against the Eddie Mountain division, a loss in Creston in October being the lone blemish on their record. But just like last month's sojourn through the Shuswap, this weekend's games are a chance for the group to continue growing as a team.

Last Meeting: The two clubs met in Castlegar on November 7th, with the Rebels laying the boots to a tired Rocket squad playing their third game in less than three days. Anthony DeLong, Tyler Robinson and Ryan Aynsley each had three-point afternoons in an 8-1 victory.

Our Opponent: Golden (17-19-0-2, 3rd Eddie Mountain) comes in fresh off a 9-2 blasting of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats earlier this week. The Rockets can score in bunches, but as the previous encounter with Castlegar proves (and a 9-6 loss in Nelson earlier this season), Golden can be scored on in bunches too. 20 year-old Josh MacDonald leads the offensive attack with 58 points (27-31), and had a 6-point outing in Tuesday's win over Creston Valley. Fellow forward Tyler Fairall was the Kootenay Conference Player of the Month for October. MacDonald and Fairall sit 5th and 6th in the KIJHL in scoring, to boot. 17 year-old Brett DeFrias has 29 points on the back end. Fellow '93 James Leonard has played the bulk of the minutes in goal, posting a 14-8 record and a 3.65 GAA.

Broadcast Info: Golden's crew will have the webcast at 6:30 Pacific time.

In the Press Box:
No word on whether Spencer Brodt will make his return tonight. I didn't see him, Darren Tarasoff, Arthur Andrews or Curtis Pereverzoff on the bus or in the rink in Grand Forks on Tuesday, and AP callup Darren Medeiros put in another strong showing.

Next 5:
Sat. Jan. 8 @ Columbia Valley, 6:30 PM Pacific
Tue. Jan. 18 vs. Grand Forks, 7:30 PM
Fri. Jan. 21 @ Spokane, 7:30 PM
Sat. Jan. 22 vs. Kelowna, 7:30 PM
Tue. Jan. 25 @ Nelson, 7:00 PM

Out of Town: The Nelson Leafs will be without Colton Schell (suspension) and Gavin Currie (upper body injury) tonight when they visit Fernie. Newcomer Dustin Johnson had 2 points in his Leafs debut Sunday in Spokane. Tomorrow's opponent, the Columbia Valley Rockies, are in Creston tonight.

Bits & Bites:
The leadup to the January 10th trade deadline has begun. Nelson have put forward Brennan Foreman on reserve. The 19 year-old scored 10 points in 12 games as a Leaf. Stay tuned to the blog and the Rebels' Twitter account for all the latest moves as we inch closer to the deadline.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Walton Named Rebels Player of the Month

With 17 points in 9 games, forward Stuart Walton has been nominated by the Rebels for the Kootenay Conference Player of the Month for December.

"Stuart's complete game has continued into the month of December but in the absence of top scorer Ryan Aynsley, he took over a large part of the offense." -- Steve Junker

To me, Walton is a no-brainer for a "Most Improved Player" award this season. After being saddled with fourth-line duty in his rookie season last year, he's stepped up his game and assumed a much bigger role this season, and as a result, his offensive skills have started to develop. He's been dynamite in the faceoff circle recently too.

Here's a look at the other Neil Murdoch division nominees:

Beaver Valley: Austin Sture
Grand Forks: Zach Thompson
Nelson: Gavin Currie
Spokane: Uriah Machuga

Audio Galore:
as promised, a couple of bits from last Wednesday's win over Nelson, plus a post-game interview from Tuesday's 3-1 triumph in Grand Forks.

To hear myself and Jon Zacks chat with Jesse Knowler, click here.

For our conversation with Rebel returnee Ryan Aynsley, click here.

For Taylor Anderson's thoughts post-Grand Forks, click here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rebels 3 Border Bruins 1

Not the prettiest of victories, but Steve Junker's troops will savour their first two points of 2011 after a 3-1 win in Grand Forks last night.

Taylor Anderson scored the eventual game-winner just shy of the 7-minute mark of the third period, and Anthony DeLong and Kwinn Mazzilli also tallied as the Rebels won their 29th game of the season. Alex Ross made 24 saves in his first start of the New Year.

Joey Cormano scored the lone goal for Grand Forks, handcuffing Ross on a wrist shot from the high slot. Ryan Ryman, who was named the game's first star, made 32 saves for the Border Bruins.

We'll Do It Live: For those of you who tuned in to last night's webcast, you may have noticed I wound up calling the game for the Border Bruins. I'm told their regular guy had to attend to a family matter in the Okanagan. Thanks to everyone in Grand Forks who made the broadcast go (relatively) smoothly, especially since I found out I was doing the game 3 minutes before puck drop.

Up Next: The Rebels head to the far north-eastern reaches of the KIJHL Friday night when they visit the Golden Rockets.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gameday: Rebels @ Border Bruins

A quick gameday package before I hop in the car and head back to the West Kootenay...

Castlegar goes searching for their first victory of 2011 tonight in Grand Forks (7:30 PM, GF Arena). The 4-1 loss in Beaver Valley wasn't the most inspiring of performances, but a quick turnaround should prove beneficial for Steve Junker's club.

Last Meeting: Castlegar have taken all five games this season from Grand Forks, the most recent being December 7th, a 6-2 win at the Complex. Kootenay Ice major midget 'tender Jarrod Schamerhorn collected his first victory in junior hockey, and his Ice teammate Darren Medeiros scored twice, including the game-winner.

Our Opponent: The rebuilding of the Border Bruins continues. With only 7 victories from their 34 games played, Grand Forks remains mired in the Neil Murdoch division basement, 19 points behind the Spokane Braves. Zac Thompson continues his fine season in the Boundary: the 19 year-old from Salmon Arm sits 9th in the KIJHL in scoring with 47 points. The Kalashnikov brothers, Yan and Artsiom, have also found their groove at this level and sit 2nd and 4th on the team in scoring respectively. Former Fort St. John Huskie Garrett Muir and counterpart Ryan Ryman have split duties between the pipes.

In the Press Box: The Rebels may again be without forward Spencer Brodt, who's missed the better part of a month. I'm told he's close to returning. Arthur Andrews and Kwinn Mazzilli both did not dress on Sunday at Beaver Valley, with callup Quinn Klimchuk making his Rebels debut. Grand Forks will be without penalty minute leader Cody Robertson, he's serving a one-game suspension.

Broadcast Info: Michael Wirischagin will have the call from Grand Forks on, beginning at 7:30.

Out of Town: One other Neil Murdoch matchup tonight sees Spokane visit Beaver Valley. That game is listed as a 7:00 start rather than the usual 7:30 face-offs at the BV Arena.

Bits & Bites: Nelson could be in for a tough go when they visit Fernie Friday night. Forward Colton Schell is suspended, and now in addition to the loss of Connor McLaughlin comes word scoring leader Gavin Currie will be lost for 4 to 6 weeks with what beat writer Bruce Fuhr termed a shoulder injury in this article.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Nitehawks 4 Rebels 1

Affiliate call-up Craig Martin scored the deciding goal 8:30 into the second period, and Justin Niminiken added a pair of third-frame insurance markers as Beaver Valley snapped the Rebels' 10-game winning streak with a 4-1 win at the HawksNest.

Ryon Sookro also scored for BV on a power-play with 1.7 seconds left in the first period in a game that saw the hosts trail early thanks to a cannon-blast from overager Mike Wiest. But the Hawks proved they are still gunning for the Neil Murdoch pole position, inching to within 5 points of Castlegar (though the Rebels have 4 games in hand).

Mike Vlanich made 26 saves for his 19th win of the season, while Castlegar's Cole Buckley stopped 32 of 36 Hawk shots and was tagged with the loss.

It was a game that showed promise early on for Castlegar, but as time wore on the home side (who were without rookie phenom Dallas Calvin) got stronger and stronger. You could blame a smaller ice-surface, a commitment to shot-blocking by the Hawks, or merely the unwillingness (for the most part) to shoot the puck, but Castlegar was not blessed with the plethora of opportunities they seemed to find at will Wednesday night against Nelson.

The Rebels still hold an edge in the season series against BV, 3-2, with the next meeting taking place February 1st at the Complex. These two teams do not like each other, as evidenced by the amount of trash-talk that bled through onto the Hawks broadcast, so be sure to mark your calendars for what could be a heated affair.

Up Next: The Rebels continue their stretch of 4 straight away from home Tuesday night at Grand Forks (7:30, GF Arena).

Gameday: Rebels @ Nitehawks

Castlegar will look to start 2011 the same way they finished 2010 when they visit Beaver Valley this afternoon. The Rebels are riding the momentum of a ten-game winning streak, and have upped their Neil Murdoch division lead over the 'Hawks to 7 points, when a month ago the two were neck and neck.

This afternoon is also a chance for forward Ryan Aynsley to get back on the scoresheet. He had an assist in his return from the Trail Smoke Eaters in Wednesday's blowout win over Nelson. His line, with Erik Wentzel and Anthony DeLong, wasn't dominant in the 9-0 win, but they didn't have to be, as all four lines were dangerous every shift.

Last Meeting:
It's been almost a month since these two clubs have locked horns, but it was a one-sided affair back on December 4th. Diego Bartlett scored twice, and Cole Buckley registered the win in his first game as a Rebel in a 9-3 win over a BV team that had several players out sick. Castlegar leads the season series 3-1.

Our Opponent: The Nitehawks can score goals, no doubt, but at times they've had trouble keeping them out of their own net. Terry Jones' crew has legitimate snipers in Ryon Sookro and 16 year-old Dallas Calvin, but suspensions and injuries have slowed the team's impressive run. This afternoon's contest is BV's first since the holiday break. Look for Mike Vlanich (one of three in today's game) to get the start in goal. Alaskan d-man Austin Sture is the club's December player of the month nominee, and he's hard to miss out on the ice, as he stands 6-6.

In the Press Box: No word on whether Spencer Brodt will make his return today, he's been out since picking up a knock December 10th at North Okanagan.

Broadcast Info: the BV crew will pick up the webcast starting at 1:00.

Next 5:
Tue. Jan. 4 @ Grand Forks, 7:30 PM
Fri. Jan. 7 @ Golden, 6:30 PM Pacific
Sat. Jan. 8 @ Columbia Valley, 6:30 PM Pacific
Tue. Jan. 18 vs. Grand Forks, 7:30 PM
Fri. Jan. 21 @ Spokane, 7:30 PM

Out of Town: One other divisional battle in Spokane this afternoon as the Leafs and Braves conclude a home-and-home. By my count, today's game marks Joel Stewart's return to Washington state, and watch for new acquisition Dustin Johnson to make his Nelson debut as well.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Nelson Signs Former BCHL Sniper

Thanks to Leafs play-by-play guy Matt Soper, I tweeted yesterday that forward Dustin Johnson did take the warmup against Spokane, but did not dress. I'm told insurance issues may have factored in that decision.

However, the 20 year-old is now on the Leafs' roster, and to say he'll provide an offensive boost is an understatement. He led BCHL Merritt in scoring last season (for a more in-depth statistical breakdown, head to Brian Wiebe's Merritt blog here).

Johnson is no stranger to the KIJHL. He scored 30 goals as a 17 year-old with the Summerland Sting in 2007-08.

The Rebels will get their first look at Johnson on January 25th at the NDCC Arena. There are a few games to get through before then, though, starting tomorrow at Beaver Valley (1:00, BV Arena). Stay tuned for the usual game-day package as Off The Wahl continues its brief sojourn to the coast. The twitter will be in full force for game updates, as with Tuesday as I'm planning to attend the game in Grand Forks on my way home.