The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League final has been a war on ice.
And Castlegar Rebels coach Steve Junker feels it’s just a preview for more as Games 3 and 4 shifted to Castlegar on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Rebels captain Taylor Anderson felt they worked hard, battled and threw hits against the Osoyoos Coyotes, who prevailed 3-2 on Sunday to take a 2-0 series lead.
“We played our systems exactly how we wanted to play,” said Anderson, who throws his five-foot-nine, 175-pound frame around. “A couple bounces here and there and that’s just how the game played out. We definitely can’t hang our heads for our effort.”
While the Rebels continuously played the body, the Coyotes didn’t flinch. Bodies hit the glass hard and collided at centre ice. The goalies didn’t escape either. Coyotes captain Stefan Jensen got a taste of the crossbar on one play when shoved into the goal by a Rebel.
“They are always coming hard. We only played them once before (regular season) and they gave us a good game,” said Laslo, who leads the playoffs with a 1.59 goals against average.
“It’s intense, every game is close and every shift, every play can either make it or break it for you. It feels a lot better to win a 3-2 game then a 7-1 type game.”
Coyotes coach Ken Law isn’t surprised how play in the series has developed.
“They are a big physical team. They are a little bit older than we are and they play that kind of style over there,” said Law. “We just have to respond and I think we responded in both games. Came out and weathered the storm. Then gave a little of our own back. I think the fans (675 in Game 1 and 598 for Game 2) really enjoyed it.”
After Corey Allen potted Sundays winner 23 seconds in, the Rebels pressured the Coyotes but couldn’t get solid chances at the net. Anderson said the Rebels just have to keep banging.
“It’s a seven game series so the more we bang that’s how it’s going to be won, in the trenches,” said Anderson, whose Rebels had lost just once at home in the playoffs heading into Tuesdays game.
“Doesn’t matter the first two games, they are done.”