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Leafs' Joe Davidson taking next step with BCHL Centennials

Leaf forward Joe Davidson, in action against Spokane Braves, finished in the top-25 of KIJHL goal scoring with 22 goals in 44 games. He finished with 38 points in his rookie season. — The Nelson Daily photo

By Emanuel Sequeira, KIJHL Communications

Joe Davidson made the most of his opportunities with the Nelson Leafs last season.

Earning the trust of head coach Mario DiBella and his staff, Davidson played in different situations and produced. He finished in the top-25 of KIJHL goal scoring with 22 goals in 44 games. He finished with 38 points in his rookie season. That was good for fourth on the Leafs as a 16-year-old.

Now the 17-year-old Nelson product is taking the next step with the B.C. Hockey League’s Merritt Centennials.

Davidson feels the Centennials are the right fit because head coach-GM Derek Sweet-Coulter wants to build a young group with size as the BCHL club is in a rebuild. In a team statement on their website, Sweet-Coulter says that Davidson has all the tools to become a top talent in the BCHL.

“Joe was one of the top players out of the KIJHL last year as an ’03. He has size (six-foot-two, 185 pounds) and he plays to it,” says Sweet-Coulter. “He goes to the tough areas of the ice and isn’t afraid to drive the net. He scored a lot last season and we believe as he develops he wil score in the BCHL too. He is a big powerful forward that we are very excited about.”

Davidson joins a familiar face in Alek Erichuk, who played defence for the Leafs last season. Davidson has met some of his teammates, as well as the coaching staff.

“Everything seems to be falling into place already,” says Davidson. “It’s going to be a pretty good season.”

After playing major midget with the Kootenay Ice, Davidson says he got off to a “shaky” start in the KIJHL as he battled older guys with bigger bodies. He also had some nerves, but once he got going, things fell into place.

“It was a really good season, super great team,” says Davidson, who added he got better driving to the net and making plays in tight areas to find teammates.

He was able to make plays and be a factor at the net, tipping shots. His defensive game also improved. Along with having great communication with the coaches on and off the ice, Davidson says his teammates were just as valuable, especially the veterans.

The KIJHL helped the 17-year-old get used to playing bigger, faster opponents. Playing for the hometown Leafs, an organization he says that teaches how to win and what it takes to win, was huge.

“Playing out of my hometown was super special,” says Davidson, who was named a Hot in the KI 3 Stars of the week for Dec. 22 and Jan. 19. “It made every game that much more exciting knowing that I was playing for the team I grew up watching as well as playing in front of my family and life long friends.”

To ensure he has a successful transition, Davidson has been working hard over the summer in the gym. He has focused on his weaknesses and small aspects of his skills.

He’s doing what he can to hopefully make an impact with the Centennials.

LEAFS NOTES: The Nelson Leafs acquired Simon Nemethy from the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the recent KIJHL dispersal draft. The Nitehawks were one of three teams opting out of the upcoming KIJHL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian players who completed the previous season with 100 Mile House, Beaver Valley or Spokane and have remaining junior hockey eligibility were available for selection. Also, players who competed at the junior A level in 2019/20, but whose KIJHL rights are held by one of those three clubs were eligible. Due to the restrictions currently in place surrounding cross-border travel, American players were not eligible to be selected. The draft order occurred in reverse order of the KIJHL's 2019/20 regular season standings, with the Osoyoos Coyotes having the first overall selection.