The Nelson Leafs will have a chip on their shoulder when the Green and White once again venture east to take on Eddie Mountain Division teams in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action, beginning Friday in Cranbrook.
The Leafs, 2-6 against Eddie Mountain Division teams this season, meet Golden Rockets and Columbia Valley Rockies Friday and Saturday in KIJHL action.
In a rare twist to the KIJHL schedule, the Leafs play the Rockets Friday in Cranbrook at the Memorial Arena. The move in location was deemed necessary due to a chiller issue at the Golden Arena.
“The only thing playing in Cranbrook does is shorten our trip by two hours,” said Leaf assistant coach Adam DiBella as the team prepares to leave Friday for the Key City.
Saturday, Nelson continues the East Kootenay trip with a game in Invermere against the Columbia Valley Rockies.
Of course, DiBella will be trying to ready the players for a team that stole two points from the Leafs the last time the teams played in Golden.
The Rockets staged a late-game rally, scoring three times in the final nine minutes of the game, to grab a 5-3 victory.
“We need to play every shift with a purpose,” DiBella explained when asked about what needs to happen for the Leafs to improve their record against the Eddie Mountain Division.
“If we commit as players and as coaches to the plan and the task that lies ahead, we should have success.”
DiBella said Anderson Violette gets the start in goal for Nelson.
“We are taking the weekend one game at a time,” said DiBella, adding coaching staff will make a decision before Saturday's game to determine if backup Tenzin Mint plays this weekend.
The Leafs are also getting defenceman Ryan Quinn Nielsen-Webb and forward Joe Davidson back from injury.
However, Nelson will be missing sniper Reid Wilson, who is getting the call to play for Trail Smokies of the BC Hockey League.
Nelson returns home following the six-game road trip Friday, December 13 against the Revelstoke Grizzlies. Game time is 7 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Leafs will be without defenceman Alek Erichuk and forwards Jackson Zimmerman, Tyler Badger and Shawn Grobowsky, all out of the lineup due to injury. . . . Nelson management made only one move at the December 1 roster deadline, trading Jackson Vyse to an undisclosed team. At the time of the deal Vyse decided not to report to the new team, instead choosing to return home to consider his options. . . . During last weekend’s Leafs-Castlegar game, the host Rebels took to the ice wearing firefighter themed jerseys and pants as a tribute to first responders. The uniforms were auctions off at www.castlegarrebels.ca Proceeds go to the Castlegar Fire Department as part of the department’s Muscular Dystrophy Canada campaign.