Following a loss to Nelson Leafs Saturday and a pending match up against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Friday, the Castlegar Rebels made a flurry of moves in an effort to keep pace in the tough Neil Murdoch Division standings.
The Rebels sent veteran goaltender and Trail native Jason Mailhiot and rookie defenceman Conner Bavaro to the Comox Glacier Kings of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) last week in exchange for highly regarded defenceman Scott Rademaker.
Rademaker was named top defencemen for the Glacier Kings last season, and was an integral part of the Burnaby Winter Club Elite-15 squad of the Canadian Sports School Hockey League in 2015-16. The five-foot-nine Rademaker put up solid numbers in his first season as a Glacier King, scoring five goals and 16 points, to go along with 55 pims, and is expected to make his debut Friday night against the Nitehawks.
“We expect Scott to come in here and be a top guy for us,” head coach and GM Bill Rotheisler said in a release. “Scott is the exact type of player we have been looking for. He [Scott] is left handed, skates very well and shows a certain level of maturity and poise that will continue to be a tremendous asset here. He can really fit anywhere in the lineup.”
The loss of Mailhiot, 19, came as a surprise, since the Rebels had reclaimed the talented goalie after trading him to the Princeton Posse last season. However, Mailhiot only saw action in three games this season, as 18-year-old Nelson native Curt Doyle monopolized the Rebel net. Bavaro, meanwhile, is a Delta native who saw limited ice time, playing in five games without a point.
“Conner did very well for a young man and has a good future ahead of him,” said Rotheisler. “As for Jason, we had big plans for Jason this year as our starter. Jason certainly didn’t disappoint; his ability and commitment make him the real deal. The emergence of Curt Doyle, combined with other deals, and our need for a top end left-handed defenceman resulted in the deal being made.”
In a separate deal the Rebels acquired goaltender Tanner Douglas from the Oceanside Generals of the VIJHL in exchange for futures.
Douglas split time between Oceanside and the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League last season, and won a Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League championship with the Notre Dame Hounds in 2016. In 16 games with the Generals, Douglas posted a 3.86 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.
“Acquiring Tanner provides us with the best goaltending tandem in the KIJHL,” said Rotheisler. “Not only are both starters, but both are top-tier goaltenders … So, when we had an opportunity to have a monopoly on the crease like that while opening up our assets to acquire a top-tier defenceman as well, it was a necessary hockey decision.”
The 6-4-0-1 Rebels are currently in fourth place in the Murdoch Division, five points back of the Nitehawks and seven behind Nelson and the Grand Forks Border Bruins.
In their only previous regular-season meeting, Sept. 23, the Nitehawks beat the Rebels 3-1. Castlegar hosts B.V. at 7 p.m. at the Castlegar Rec Complex on Friday, while B.V. plays host to the Rebels on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Hawks Nest in Fruitvale.