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.
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.