The atmosphere heading into this weekend's home and home series with Nelson seems a bit tame, to say the least. With 5 games left in the regular season, all is sorted, division-wise, though the Rebels still have their sights on first in the Kootenay Conference, and a weekend sweep would give the club their first 40-win season since 2000-01, and only their second overall since joining the KIJHL in 1976.
Castlegar would surely like a bit of revenge this evening though, their last visit to Nelson was less than pleasant (more on that below). The Rebels M.A.S.H. unit will also decrease by two people, as Arthur Andrews and Josh McGladery are both eligible to return from suspension.
Last Meeting: Nelson avoided the season series sweep January 25th with a 5-3 home victory. Dustin Johnson scored the eventual winner on a blue-line wrister early in the third period.
Our Opponent: Nelson, who will finish third in the Neil Murdoch division, are also hoping to get healthy before the playoffs. Forward Gavin Currie is expected back soon, while goaltender Darren Hogg is done for the year. Former Penticton Laker Colton Schell leads the way offensively with 47 points, and needs three goals the rest of the way to match the 20 he put up with the Lakers last year. Johnson, since joining Nelson, has 17 points in 12 games, and has provided a solid veteran punch with fellow 20 year-old Joel Stewart. Marcus Beesley will go the rest of the way in goal for the Leafs: the Prince George product has dropped 4 of his last 6 and sports a 3.97 goals against average, 4th among Neil Murdoch division starters. The Leafs will face Beaver Valley in round one, they dropped both halves of a weekend set against the Nitehawks last weekend, though both were one-goal games and one went to overtime.
Broadcast Info: Matt Soper has the call on kijhl.ca, beginning at 7:00.
In the Press Box: Castlegar's Mike Wiest is out, while fellow defenseman Erik Alden could well make his return after sitting out Tuesday night. As mentioned earlier, Andrews and McGladery have served the suspensions they incurred in Spokane. Nelson is not reporting any injuries other than the ones to Currie and Hogg, though defenseman Blake Arcuri has missed the Leafs' last four games.
Out of Town: Every Neil Murdoch division team is in action tonight. Beaver Valley hosts Sicamous in a game that means a lot to the Eagles. They sit one point ahead of North Okanagan (who visits Princeton tonight) for third in the Doug Birks division with each team having five games left. Whoever finishes fourth draws the defending champion Revelstoke Grizzlies in the first round. Grand Forks welcomes Spokane in the other Neil Murdoch division game.