(Castlegar wins series 4-2)
On to the KIJHL finals!
Ryan Aynsley scored twice, including the game-winner on a 5-on-3 as Castlegar claimed the Kootenay Conference crown with a 5-2 victory over the Fernie Ghostriders.
Tyler Robinson opened the scoring on the power-play just over 5 minutes into the first period before Johnny Park brought Fernie level on a Ghostriders man-advantage.
Aynsley took centre-stage after Spencer Brodt and Michael Anderson traded second-period tallies, Anderson's a short-handed marker to boot.
The Kelowna sniper put two similar shots past Fernie goaltender Andrew Walton, as the Rebels used power-plays to their advantage, capitalizing four times.
Erik Wentzel added an insurance marker 12 seconds into the third period, as Castlegar claimed their first Kootenay Conference title since 1996.
Man-advantage opportunities were a determining factor to me tonight. Fernie didn't have many opportunities on the power-play, going 1/3, while the Rebels went 4/8 (only Wentzel's goal was scored at even-strength). At times, Castlegar even put five forwards out on the power-play (though Josh McGladery took a regular shift on the blue line tonight). At five-on-five though, there wasn't much difference between the two teams, and Fernie had much of the possession in the first period before the Rebels started asserting themselves in the final 40 minutes.
Tip of the Hat: Tonight's attendance: 790. Thanks to each and every one of you, and hope to see you back in the finals!
Tip of the Hat, Part II: To the Fernie Ghostriders, who made every minute of this series a battle. They will be a rested, hungry bunch come Cyclone Taylor Cup time later this month. The likes of Thomas Abenante, Cale Wright and Jeff Zmurchyk will be tough for any club to go up against, especially at the Fernie Memorial Arena.
Up Next: The Osoyoos Coyotes. Game 1 of the Kootenay Conference final goes Saturday night at the Sun Bowl Arena. Stay tuned for plenty of setup coverage in advance of the series opener.