The Nelson Leafs are ever so close to checking off the first box on the goal sheet for this Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season.
Powered by a five-game winning streak, including a three-game sweep of home games this past weekend, the Leafs are within a single-point of clinching the Murdoch Division regular season title — a crown that has eluded the Green and White since 2014.
A win Friday against potential first-round playoff opponent, Grand Forks Border Bruins or a loss by Castlegar Rebels will clinch the title for the Leafs.
Nelson enters the weekend a little banged up after the first three games of the five-game homestand.
Winger Jack Karran remains out of the lineup with a lower body injury after being helped from the ice during the first period of Friday’s win over Columbia Valley Rockies.
Also missing is Jackson Zimmerman while centerman Nicholas Wihak is a game-time decision after being struck in the head by Rebel captain Vince Bitonti during Sunday’s win over Castlegar.
Bitonti was handed a three-game suspension after receiving a five-minute major and will not be in the lineup when the teams tangle against Saturday in Nelson.
Saturday's contest concludes the five-game homestand for the Leafs.
Saturday’s game is also the final regular season game for a quartet of Leafs.
Leaf Captain Sawyer Hunt, Wihak, defenceman Zach Morey and netminder Josh Williams, all 20-year-olds, will graduate from Junior Hockey this season.
Nelson completes the regular season next weekend with games in Fruitvale against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and the Rebels in Castlegar.
Warriors call up Leaf D-Man
Leafs defenceman Michael Bladon will also not be in the lineup this weekend for the Leafs.
Bladon, has been called up as an affiliate player by West Kelowna Warriors of the BC Hockey League.
The Warriors have a full weekend on the road, with three games against Cowichan Valley, Powell River and Chilliwack.
Hockey Club continues Autism Awareness Campaign
The Nelson Leafs Autism Awareness Campaign continues during the final two regular season home games Friday and Saturday at the NDCC Arena.
The Leafs are wearing newly minted jerseys to promote Autism Awareness sponsored by Remedy's RX on 700 Baker Street.
As part of the program, the club is raffling off a authentic Vancouver Canucks jersey signed by all members of the National Hockey League team.