The Grand Forks Border Bruins pulled off a substantial upset in the first round of the KIJHL playoffs, ousting the second-seeded Castlegar Rebels in six games in the Neil Murdoch division semifinal.
After splitting the first four games, the Bruins defeated the Rebels in Castlegar, 3-1, in Game 5, and returned home to clinch the series with a 6-1 drubbing on Tuesday.
The game was tied 1-1 through two periods on goals from Bruins forward Austin Dean and Rebels’ Jesse Reeds, but Grand Forks erupted for five goals in the final frame to put an exclamation point in what had been a close series prior to Game 6.
Bryson Yee netted the winner less than five minutes into the third, converting a set up from Garret Brisbois and Tyler Fyfe, and just 48 seconds later Shayne Pluto added an insurance marker to make it 3-1 Grand Forks.
The result was not a complete surprise, as a rejuvenated Grand Forks team had beaten Castlegar in 2-of-3 of their matches in the last month of the season.
After Garret Brisbois put the Bruins up 4-1 at 11:49, Castlegar lost their cool as Matthew Lambert instigated a fight with Ryland Smaha-Muir to give the Border Bruins a man advantage, and Logan Casavant would make them pay, scoring a power-play marker for the Bruins to put the game out of reach. Dean netted his fourth of the playoffs and second of the night into the empty net for the 6-1 victory.
Anthony Galliart was solid in net for the Bruins stopping 29 shots, while the Rebels Logan Sawka made 19 saves in the losing cause.
The Border Bruins now take on a rested Beaver Valley Nitehawks team that swept the Nelson Leafs in four games.
The Hawks won the season series against Grand Forks 4-3, but the Bruins have given the Hawks problems this season winning three in a row in November, all by 3-2 scores.
Nitehawks coach Terry Jones said he would have liked to seen the Bruins-Rebels series go seven games, but has no preference when it came to his opponent for the Neil Murdoch division championship series.
“We know that they (Grand Forks) are a tough team, very competitive, and having to play them, it’s going to be tough,” said Jones.