(Osoyoos leads series 3-2)
It's do or die time for the Rebels.
After last night's 4-2 setback, Castlegar faces elimination for the first time in these playoffs, and needs a home-ice victory (in front of what's sure to be another boisterous crowd at the Complex) to force a seventh and deciding game Monday night in the South Okanagan.
The Good: The Rebels have won 6 straight games on home ice, and the only setback at the Complex during the 2011 playoffs was a wild 7-6 loss to Beaver Valley in Game 2 of the Neil Murdoch final. The two victories in Games 3 and 4 may well have been the best performances of the playoffs.
The Bad: It looked like the team really missed captain Taylor Anderson last night. The persistent forecheck and crash-and-bang style of play wasn't there in Game 5 to the degree that we saw it in Games 3 and 4. Anderson's absence meant Erik Wentzel switched lines to play with Anthony DeLong and Stuart Walton in a trio that generated one goal and several quality scoring chances.
The Ugly: To take this series, the Rebels will need to win on the road. Castlegar has now lost their last 5 games away from the Complex.
The Coyotes meanwhile, played (I thought) their strongest game of the series, hurrying Castlegar's defence (particularly in the first two periods) and forcing defensive-zone turnovers. Alex Ross's terrific series continues though, a leather-flashing larceny of Thierry Martine on a second-period breakaway serving as the exclamation point on a 34-save evening.
It's the final home game of the season tonight, no matter what happens. It's a pretty safe bet though, that the Rebels won't go down without a dogfight.
Broadcast Info: We'll have our final webcast of the 2010-11 season tonight beginning at 7:30, while our friends from Osoyoos, Randy Bedard and Tom Shields have the radio call on EZ Rock Osoyoos and the Coyotes' website.
Fun Fact: If my stats are correct (and by that I mean the KIJHL site), the Coyotes could become the fourth expansion team to win the league title if they take this series (joining the 1994-95 Sicamous Eagles and 1993-94 North Okanagan Kings). The first team to do it though? The 1976-77 Castlegar Rebels.