With a two-nothing series lead in store, the Rebels are off to Washington state this afternoon for Games 3 and 4 against Spokane (tonight at 6:45 PM, tomorrow at 8:00 PM).
With 12 goals scored in the first two games of the series, there's no doubt Castlegar have found their offensive swagger, but defensive coverage may have been a point of discussion after the Braves were allowed back into a game they trailed 3-0, 4-2 and 5-3.
As far as the series structure is concerned, it's a mirror image from 2010: the Rebels led Spokane 2-0 heading to Eagles Ice-A-Rena only to drop both games en route to a 6-game series loss. The mindset is different this year, and the talent level is higher, but as everyone in the KIJHL knows, the Addison Street rink is hardly a friendly visit.
Last Meeting: From an excitement level, Game 2 (in my eyes) passed the October visit from the Fernie Ghostriders as game of the year. AP Jesse Knowler potted the OT winner to give Castlegar a 7-6 victory.
Our Opponent: The Braves' top performers have put up points despite trailing in the series. Rance Hughes leads the way with 4 assists, while Guisseppe Dippolito and Ryan Hadley-Schaal have two goals each. Spokane is playing a much more disciplined style of hockey than we saw in last year's series, though the departures of Joel Stewart (Nelson) and Jake Peterson (graduated) may be a reason (they combined for 155 penalty minutes in the 2010 playoffs). To win, the Braves will need to continue blocking as many shots as humanly possible, which will be easier on the smaller ice surface in Spokane. An early lead is crucial.
Broadcast Info: Rick Edwards has the call tonight and tomorrow for those of you tuning in to the webcast.
In the Press Box: Mike Wiest returned for Game 2 and was a minute-muncher to say the least. The Rebels sat Kwinn Mazzilli, Aaron Brewer and Curtis Pereverzoff (all healthy), while Spokane were without Van Stefanou and Thomas McNevin. To the best of my knowledge, nothing has changed on the injury front.
Audio: Time to play a bit of catch-up in the interview department:
Here's Mazzilli following Castlegar's 9-3 win at Grand Forks last week. Listen.
For Stuart Walton's take on Game 1, click here.
As for Game 2, I spoke with OT hero Knowler here, and Ryan Aynsley here.
Out of Town: Fernie, Beaver Valley and Osoyoos have all taken 2-0 leads in their respective series. I watched most of the BV/Nelson game last night and thought the Leafs showed a lot more jam than in Game 1, despite losing d-men Tyler Parfeniuk and Taylor O'Neil to checking from behind game misconducts.