The Nelson Leafs take to the ice Tuesday afternoon at the NDCC Arena for the annual New Year’s Eve clash with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
The Leafs will be looking to bounce back from a rocky streak that saw the Green and White drop five of seven Kootenay International Junior Hockey League games in December.
However, the Leafs did experience some good news after rookie winger Joe Davidson was recognized by the league in the recent KI 3 Stars.
The 16-year-old Nelson Minor Hockey grad was joined by Columbia Valley Rockies goalie Bretton Park and Beaver Valley Nitehawks forward Bradley Ross.
Davidson, a Nelson native, led the Leafs to victory December 17th over the Castlegar Rebels, scoring a hat-trick in a 3-2 overtime win. Cole Wyatt set him up for the winner with 2:12 remaining.
“It’s a great feeling, pucks were coming my way and everyone else was working hard to get them to me,” says Davidson on his first KIJHL hat-trick. “I felt like things were clicking and we had good energy going into each period. I definitely could have played tighter in the D-zone for sure, but overall, it was a good game.”
Park, a Red Deer native, earns the first star following a 50-save performance in a 4-4 tie against the Fernie Ghostriders on December. 17. His efforts earned him a game-star.
“The game was fun to play in when you have that many shots. Your focus is to make the next save and help your team win the game,” says Park. “That was one of three games that I have played in where I have had 50+ saves. Those games you remember because they are exciting.”
He’s won four of his last five starts. His record is 9-7-1 with a 2.94 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
Ross, a Trail native, earns the second star following a five-point performance in two games against the Castlegar Rebels. Ross was named game star both times as he potted the game-winning goals in 3-2 and 4-2 decisions.
“I felt I had two good games this weekend and our team as a whole played really well,” says Ross, 19. “It’s always fun scoring goals and it’s even better when they are game-winners.”
Ross is second in league scoring with 25 goals and 49 points in 29 games.
Davidson, with 11 goals and 19 points in 29 games as a rookie, will be looking to help Nelson recover ground lost in Murdoch Division standings to the Nitehawks.
Beaver Valley currently leads the Leafs by three points in the Murdoch Division race. Nelson won the only previous meeting between the two teams earlier this year in Fruitvale.
BLUELINES: After Tuesday’s contest, Nelson starts a very busy January KIJHL schedule beginning with the return contest against the Nitehawks Friday in Fruitvale. The Leafs host Creston Valley Thunder Cats Saturday at 7 p.m. at the NDCC Arena before dropping the puck Sunday afternoon against Columbia Valley Rockies at 2 p.m. Nelson concludes the month with games against Grand Forks twice, Kimberley, Princeton, Spokane, Osoyoos and Castlegar.