The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League kicked off its 2020-21 season on several fronts, and for the Nelson Leafs opening weekend was a tremendous success.
The Leafs posted two wins, thumping Castlegar Rebels 10-3 Friday in the Sunflower City before returning to edge visiting Osoyoos Coyotes 4-3 in overtime Saturday at the NDCC Arena.
Simon Nemethy scored at 3:07 of the first overtime period to give Nelson the win in the team home opener.
“I was happy with the work ethic we had in both games,” said Leaf assistant coach Adam DiBella when asked about the opening weekend of the season.
“I thought we could have executed better but for four of the six periods the team worked hard.”
In the opening frame of Saturday’s game against Osoyoos, the Coyotes scored twice in the first period to grab a 2-0 advantage.
Hunter Floris scored to cut the margin to 2-1 before intermission.
Matthew Byrne then scored twice, in the second and third periods, to give Nelson the 3-2 lead.
However, the Coyotes scored with three minutes remaining in the third to force overtime.
Friday, Nelson held period leads of 2-1 and 5-1 before blowing the Rebels out of the building in the third.
Ethan McLaughlin led the Leafs with five points, including three goals.
Floris added a pair with singles going to Captain Brandon Costa, Joe Davidson, Tyler Pisiak, Tyson Lautard and Brody Weitzel.
Byrne and Costa finished with five and three points, respectively.
Jaedon Little, Nathan Dann and Justin Duguay replied for the Rebels, which rebounded to defeat Grand Forks 5-3 Saturday in the Boundary City.
Tenzin Mint was in goal for both games to register back-to-back wins.
Nelson returns to action Friday when the Leafs host Grand Forks at the NDCC Arena.
Saturday, Nelson travels to Osoyoos to face the Coyotes.