Alden scores in OT to power Rebels to 2-0 lead in KIJHL Final

first_imgFrom the outside looking in the North Okanagan Knights have no business sticking around in games against the Castlegar Rebels.The Knights needed seven games to dispatch the Osoyoos Coyotes, getting the final win Sunday in Armstrong.The Rebels won its Kootenay Conference title in a sweep over Golden giving the West Kootenay franchise a six-day rest between series.The Knights were playing on the road.The Rebels were playing in the friendly confines of the Castlegar Sports Complex after running away with the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League regular season crown, thus assuring the Sunflower City team of home ice in the best-of-seven championship final.But this Knights team is no pushover, forcing the Rebels to twice battle back from one-goal deficits before defenceman Erik Alden scored in the second overtime to lift Castlegar to a 3-2 playoff victory in the KIJHL Final Wednesday night before 470 fans. The Rebels now lead 2-0 in the best-of-seven affair with Game three and four scheduled for Armstrong Friday.The Knights got a quick start on Castlegar as Derek Andrews scored three minutes into the game on the power play, beating Jordan Gluck in the Rebels net.Stuart Walton got that one back for Castlegar before the period ended as the Rebels dominated the opening frame, out shooting North Okanagan 16-4.But North Okanagan once again took advantage of a penalty to Castlegar’s Diego Bartlett, scoring seconds after the Rebel forward was forced to sit for two minutes.North Okanagan held the lead until the 15-minute mark of the third when Bryan Lubin and Stuart Walton combined to pull the Rebels even at 2-2.The teams traded punches through the next almost 30 minutes before the veteran defenceman, Alden beat hard-luck losing netminder Dustin Nikkel in the North Okanagan nets.Castlegar finished the game out shooting North Okanagan 49-32 thanks in part to the wide shot advantage in the first period.CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES: Castlegar is the fifth straight Neil Murdoch team to play for the league title. The Rebels last advanced to the championship series in 2011 before losing to Osoyoos Coyotes. Nelson Leafs won the Kootenay Conference in 2009 and 2010, Castlegar in 2011 and last year’s KIJHL champ, Beaver Valley, in 2012. . . .The last KIJHL title for the Sunflower City franchise came in 1996. . . .North Okanagan won the league title in 1995 when the franchise played out of Enderby.last_img

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