** More photos from the game at the Castlegar News Facebook page **
The game started two hours later than scheduled, but Castlegar’s KIJHL entry managed to find their desired result.
A pair of first-period goals staked the Rebels to a 3-1 Game 4 victory over the Fernie Ghostriders, and increased their series lead to 3-1 in the Kootenay Conference final.
Ryan Aynsley opened the scoring 12:19 into the first period, rifling a one-timer past former Rebels goaltender Andrew Walton while the Rebels enjoyed a five-on-three advantage.
Diego Bartlett quickly doubled Castlegar’s lead, scampering to the front of the net and outwaiting Walton to score his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Fernie came to life in the second period, though.
Luke Richardson’s power-play goal cut the Rebels lead in half, but committed penalty-killers, including goaltender Alex Ross, held the Eddie Mountain champs to just one goal in eight opportunities while on the power play.
After Ross stoned sniper Thomas Abenante on a breakaway late in the third period, the Rebels gained some much-needed insurance thanks to Alaskan veteran Spencer Brodt.
The second-year Rebel stole the puck from a Fernie defenceman and lifted it into an empty net in the game’s final minute.
Fernie were late arriving at the Complex due to the closure of Highway 3 between Salmo and Creston for avalanche control work.
But after missing a ferry at Crawford Bay, the game was nearly postponed before the visitors were able to climb aboard a later sailing and scurry to the rink from Balfour.
The late start did little to dispel the fans, though.
581 people attended Saturday’s game after a season-high crowd of 587 took in Thursday’s Game 3.
With a 3-1 series lead in tow, the Rebels head back to Fernie for Monday’s Game 5, with a Game 6 tentatively scheduled for Tuesday night at the Complex.
Castlegar last played in the KIJHL final in 1996, when they defeated the Sicamous Eagles for the third title in franchise history.