(Castlegar leads series 3-1)
Castlegar's ticket to Round Two could be punched tonight (5:00 PM, Complex) with a victory, but this series has tightened up dramatically since the 5-1 opener on Monday night.
The Rebels have needed overtime twice, and were shut out once in the three games since, but come into tonight's Game 5 holding a 3-1 series edge on a Braves team that has proven to be just as hard-working and scrappy as they were last year.
The Rebels' offense was, for lack of a better term, shut down in Washington state, scoring only two goals in the 120+ minutes of hockey that were Games 3 & 4. But the likes of Ryan Aynsley (who leads Castlegar with 4 goals in 4 games), Erik Wentzel, Mike Wiest and Anthony DeLong (et al) can only be shut down for so long.
Part of that will involve solving Braves goaltender Garrett Barr, who was much better on home ice than he was in either game in Castlegar in this series. Forward Rance Hughes (2-4-6) leads all scorers in the series, but fellow snipers Nick Redding, Uriah Machuga and Mitch Fowler have only two goals between them in the four games this far.
Expect another close game this evening: I'm sure Castlegar would love nothing more than a chance to await the victor of an increasingly interesting Nelson/BV series (see below), while the Braves come into tonight's game with their backs against the wall, hoping for a chance to play at home again tomorrow.
Broadcast Info: We'll have the webcast this evening at 5:00 PM.
In the Press Box: Aaron Brewer and Kwinn Mazzilli are still awaiting their first action of the series, while Corbin Legros sat out Game 4 in favour of youngster Riley Ostoforoff.
Out of Town: Osoyoos is the first team in the KIJHL to advance to Round Two, posting a comprehensive sweep of the Penticton Lakers. In addition to the Rebels, three more teams can advance with victories this evening. Fernie visits Kimberley for Game 4 in that series: the Ghostriders have won each game thus far by at least six goals. Kamloops can eliminate Sicamous, and Revelstoke the North Okanagan Knights as well tonight, setting up a potential matchup against each other.
Murdoch Madness: What got into the Nelson Leafs? After a forgettable excursion to Fruitvale for Games 1 & 2 (that included a 13-2 defeat), the Leafs evened the series with a 9-1 win at the NDCC last night. They'll play what has turned out to be a massive Game 5 tomorrow at the Beaver Valley Arena (and I can't imagine I'd be going out too far on a limb to suggest both the Rebels and Braves hope that series reaches a Game 7).