If the City of Castlegar had set up the new speed-detector signs at the Castlegar Complex Friday night, there would likely have been some red sad faces flashing on the reader board.
Several Castlegar Rebels players would have triggered the radar warning as they were flying up and down the ice all game.
That speed — especially from forward Everett Hicks — was too much for the visiting Grand Forks Border Bruins to handle as the Rebels skated to a steady 3-1 win. Edward Lindsey netted a pair of goals and added an assist, while linemate Brandon Costa had a goal and two assists. Jordan Wood and Chase Daniels added single assists for the Rebels.
The Rebels adjusted to first-period pressure by green-lighting fast-skating breakouts in the second and third that the Bruins couldn’t stop.
“We know our assets. We’re fast and we pride ourselves on being a fast team. We work very hard on maintaining, as other teams get better and faster,” Rebels coach and general manager Bill Roitheisler said after the victory. “We do a lot of skating stuff during the week to make sure we maintain that. We view that as one of our assets. But there’s a lot of things Grand Forks has for their assets as well, they play physical, they play hard.”
True to form, the Bruins were impressive in the first period, aggressively forechecking from the opening shift, catching the Rebels on their heels. It led to the game’s opening goal: a quick rebound tap-in by the Bruins’ Nathan Cohen-Wallis after a smart “get-it-on-net” shot by Cole Kapak less than five minutes in.
“It took us a while in that first period to get anything in from anywhere other than from the outside, so we addressed it. They played us well and they did what they could but ultimately as the game progressed speed starts to play a factor,” Rotheisler said.
The Rebels looked to be hesitating on the puck after that initial onslaught, and it was something the coaches had to actively address during the first intermission.
“It’s a smart group. They don’t go in the room and they’re not naive to what’s going on. We didn’t play a good first period, and everyone in that room would have told you the same thing. We had to sort things out and have a bit of a moment there to figure out how to get back because Grand Forks, to their credit, was on and it clearly was affecting everyone’s psyche in there,” Rotheisler said.
“We usually don’t like to do a whole lot of coaching work during the intermissions, it’s usually just, ‘raw, raw, keep it up.’ But that was a unique one for sure.”
After Friday night’s win, the Rebels were just two points behind crosstown rivals the Nelson Leafs. The Leafs were drubbed 9-3 by Beaver Valley Friday night. With a win Saturday night against the visiting Spokane Braves, and a loss by Nelson to Grand Forks, the Rebels would find themselves in first place in the Neil Murdoch Division. It’s something the Rebels are well aware of. The key is to focus on the work, not the hype, Rotheisler said.
“It’s tough when a lot of people are telling us we’re a good team right now. It’s constant expectation management with the guys. We have to make sure our perception is not so much ‘we are a great team’ as ‘it’s our pursuit to be a great team.’ We’ve got to find our own way of getting better,” he said.
“We want to be first, we want to have home ice. We look at a situation to, say a month ago, where we were beating certain teams and teams we thought we’d be beating, we weren’t. We had quite a hill to climb. We had a 14-point differential. We know the goal and we’re aware of the goal but we don’t get obsessed with the goal, we get obsessed with the process.”
Game time Saturday is 7 p.m. at the Complex.