(Castlegar leads series 3-1)
One win away from the finals.
The Rebels pounced on a bus-weary Fernie club in the first period and hung on for a 3-1 victory in Game 4 tonight.
Ryan Aynsley opened the scoring, converting on a 5-on-3 one-time pass from Jesse Knowler just over 12 minutes in, before Diego Bartlett outwaited 'Riders goaltender Andrew Walton to give Castlegar a 2-0 edge through 20 minutes.
Fernie's Luke Richardson brought his club back to within one in the second, but the 'Riders were unable to convert on a number of power-plays, going 1/8 on the night including a lengthy 5-on-3 to start the third period.
Spencer Brodt capped off the win with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Fernie had numerous chances, both with the man-advantage and at even strength, to tie the game, but Rebels goaltender Alex Ross had maybe his best game of the post-season so far, stoning the visitors including a late breakaway from Thomas Abenante.
Walton was strong for Fernie too, he couldn't be faulted on either goal and made several key saves of his own, including a couple on his younger brother.
With a victory Monday, Castlegar would advance to their first KIJHL finals since 1996, when they defeated the Sicamous Eagles. Fernie, despite having an automatic entry into the Cyclone Taylor Cup, have said all season long that their goal is to enter the tournament through the front door. Expect Will Verner's squad to come out guns a'blazing Monday.
I'm sure the 'Riders will also be quite pleased to rest in their own beds tonight after a harrowing travel experience. Avalanche control work on Highway 3 between Salmo and Creston forced Fernie to reach the West Kootenay via the Kootenay Lake ferry. And after missing the 5:20 sailing, the 'Riders and Rebels were on the verge of post-poning the game until Sunday until the visitors were able to climb aboard a later boat and scamper down Highway 3A to the Complex. As a result, tonight's opening faceoff was at 9:37 PM local time, 2 hours and 7 minutes later than expected. It's no wonder Walton, Abenante and Scott Morisseau all had strong games: they all stayed with family in Castlegar and Trail between Games 3 and 4.
Up Next: Fernie has their backs to the wall (at least in terms of the KIJHL playoffs). Game 5 goes Monday night at 7:30 MT (6:30 Pacific) in a matchup you can catch on the web or on Mountain FM.
Out of Town: Osoyoos doubled up Revelstoke 4-2 tonight to take a 3-2 series lead in the Okanagan final.