It was another packed house with over 700 screaming fans cheering on a Castlegar Rebels team facing elimination for the second time in as many nights against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in Game 6 of the KIJHL Neil Murdoch Division title.
The Rebels won a thrilling double-overtime match in Beaver Valley 4-3 Monday to put the series at 3 games to 2 for the Hawks. One loss would mean the end of the season for the Rebels, but that was not to be, as the home team came away with a 6-4 victory in Castlegar Tuesday.
Stuart Walton netted the winner on a power play midway through the third, firing a wrist shot past the Hawks netminder Zach Perehudoff to complete the come back from a 3-2 second period deficit and force Game 7.
The two teams started out flying with the Rebels getting early scoring chances but Perehudoff came up big on two close in pad saves.
The teams traded penalties in the early going but power plays proved largely ineffective. It wasn’t until 4:56 to go in the first, when the Rebels broke out on a 2 on 1 and Diego Bartlett played it to Arthur Andrews who made a quick move and backhanded it upstairs on Perehudoff.
Forty-three seconds later a strong Castlegar forecheck stole the puck from the Hawks D, Walton then centered it to Peter Mingus who sniped it top corner sending the Rebels into the second with a 2-0 lead.
It was arguably the best period of hockey for the Rebels thus far in the series but the second frame was another story.
The Nitehawks power play started clicking after Daylen Pearson was called for hauling down a Nitehawk on a breakaway. The Hawks worked the puck neatly around, until Martin gathered it at the hash marks made a slick move around the Rebel D-man and sent a no-look pass to Deroche at the side of the net who slammed it home.
Minutes later with another man advantage, Scotty Davidson worked it back to Ryan Edwards on the point. His slap shot was stopped by Rebel goalie Jordan Gluck but the rebound came right out to Martin who wristed it top corner to tie it at 2-2.
The Nitehawks looked like a different team, as they continued to sustain pressure in the Rebels end and were rewarded once again when Mason Spear redirected in a Martin Pass with 6:25 on the clock to put the Hawks up 3-2.
But after Tyler Jones tied it for the Rebels at 14:12 of the third, the Nitehawks got into penalty trouble. Christian Johnson was called for slashing and Scott Morisseau would make them pay putting the Rebels up by one, 4-3. Following the goal, Archie McKinnon and Fraser Stang were both sent off for suspect infractions that left the Nitehawks two men short.
Walton would get the winner on the power play and while Ryan Baines cut the lead to one, Tyler Robinson would ice it for the Rebs with an empty netter.
Game 7 goes Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Beaver Valley Arena.