Fasten your seatbelts everyone, it could be a wild ride.
Castlegar and Fernie were the two top teams in the KIJHL's Kootenay Conference during the regular season, so it seems almost fitting that it will be Castlegar and Fernie to decide the Kootenay Conference crown.
How They Got Here: The Rebels had consecutive five-game series victories over the Spokane Braves and Beaver Valley Nitehawks, while Fernie swept the Kimberley Dynamiters before a 7-game battle with Creston Valley.
Season Series: Castlegar won both games against Fernie this season:
Oct. 23/10: Fernie 3 @ 4 Castlegar (OT)
Oct. 29/10: Castlegar 3 @ 1 Fernie
Here's a look at the teams' leading scorers during the abbreviated season series:
Taylor Anderson 1-3-4
Ryan Aynsley 3-0-3
Anthony DeLong 1-1-2
Erik Wentzel 1-1-2
Tyler Jones 0-2-2
Darren Tarasoff 0-2-2
Thomas Abenante 1-1-2
Alex Milhouse 1-1-2
Scott Morisseau 1-1-2
Josh Garneau 0-2-2
Kade Pilton 1-0-1
Coach's Thoughts: I caught up with Rebels bench boss Steve Junker yesterday, click here to hear what he had to say about the upcoming series.
Broadcast Info: Fernie's crew will have the webcast at 6:30 Pacific. Mountain FM will be carrying all remaining Rebels away games, including tonight. Jon Zacks has the call tonight and tomorrow beginning at 6:30. To listen online, click here.
Brotherly Love?: Not quite sure how I overlooked it Saturday (thanks to whoever left the comment for pointing it out), but yet another side story is the sibling rivalry between Andrew and Stuart Walton. The elder brother was shipped to Fernie for Mike Wiest and Jamie Vlanich at the beginning of December, and by all accounts has lived up to his billing, especially since his running-mate Fraser Abdallah went down to injury. Stuart, meanwhile, had a career year with the Rebels, posting 55 points after only scoring 10 last season in limited action.
Our Opponent: Plenty of West Kootenay connections on the high-flying Ghostriders. In addition to Walton and Castlegar's Scott Morisseau (the two-time defending KIJHL scoring champ), Fernie also boasts Trail's Thomas Abenante, as well as imposing defenceman Jeff Zmurchyk (who is a former Smoke Eater), and Arizona product Connor McLaughlin (who is a former Nelson Leaf). Coach Will Verner is a former Rebels bench boss, while forward Luke Richardson also played briefly with Castlegar at the beginning of last season. The Ghostriders are full marks for their 42-5-0-3 regular season record, and several members of their organization have told me they want to enter the Cyclone Taylor Cup (which they're hosting) "through the front door" as KIJHL champs.
Out of Town: A surprising result to the Okanagan final last night, Revelstoke waxed Osoyoos 8-2. Bruce Silvera had a hat-trick for the defending champs. Game 2 goes tonight in the desert.