The Castlegar Rebels have no room left to lose after the Nelson Leafs defeated them in overtime in game five of their first round KIJHL series on Thursday night.
For the fourth the game this playoff series the Rebels and the Leafs were tied at the end of regulation, and it was a battle to sink the puck and claim victory.
From the first period it was clear that the Rebels had taken Tuesday night’s defeat to heart and were stepping it up. Despite the fact that the period ended with the Leafs counting the only goal, the Rebels at least managed 15 shots — as many shots as they landed during Tuesday’s entire game.
Everett Hicks tied things up late into the second period, but the Leafs’ Dale Howell responded with 1:01 left on the clock.
The Rebels fought to tie things up in the third and got their chance when the Leafs’ Jack Karran took a game misconduct and additional five minute penalty for kneeing. Logan Styler, assisted by Daniel Petten and Hicks, snuck one past the Leafs’ goalie Dave Allen on the power play, tying the game.
Unfortunately the opportunity came at a cost. Daneel Lategan was the one kneed and had to be led off the ice to the Rebels dressing room. Though he still needs to be assessed Friday morning, head coach and general manager Bill Rotheisler doesn’t think he’ll be able to finish the series.
“We’re anticipating he’s probably out for a bit,” Rotheisler said.
The Rebels fought to take the lead until the end of the third, but the game went into overtime and the Leafs found the net first, winning the game 3-2.
Asked what he thought went wrong, Rotheisler blamed himself for the loss.
“Honestly I think the team played really well,” he said. “They played good enough to win every single game except for one, and it always seems to be something. … This game came down to… if I could pick one person it would be myself. I’ve done this for a long time and I couldn’t explain to you some of the coaching decisions that I made tonight, including right to the last one. They made a line change, we have last change, and instead of making a change when they did, knowing we needed fresh legs — a call that I would make 99 times out of 100 — I didn’t make it.”
Now the Rebels are headed into game six with the Leafs leading the series 3-2, and it’s a must-win. Despite the team’s last two losses, Rotheisler is optimistic.
“We have to win two in a row. We’ve done that on multiple occasions,” he said. “We don’t have to win four in a row, we don’t have to work on a sweep here, so the pressure is off for that. We gotta win two in a row and that’s something that we’ve done many times before.”
Game six will take place Friday night in Nelson at 7 p.m.