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Slow start not the problem as Leafs struggle to tame Bruins

Linden Horswill made the most of his return to Nelson.

By Bruce Fuhr,
The Nelson Daily Sports

Go figure.

For most of the season it’s like the Nelson Leafs believe game time is an hour later than posted on the schedule.

Why else would the team fail to show up for the first period of a 7 p.m. game and end up on the wrong side of the score after 20 minutes?

New Flash Saturday night:

The Leafs reverse the trend, get a great start against the Grand Forks Border Bruins to lead 2-0 after one period and 4-0 after two.

However, instead of finishing the game strong Nelson lets its foot off the gas peddle, allowing the Border Bruins to cut into the comfortable margin and send shivers up the spine of the coaching staff.

This story still has a happy ending as Gavin Currie notched his second of the game to lead the Leafs to a 5-2 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League victory at the NDCC Arena.

“We played really well in the first, the second was good but (in the third) we thought we’d won the game already but we were able to get that late goal to finish off the game,” said Leaf rookie winger, Patrick Martens.

An unlikely hero, 16-year-old Linden Horswill gave Nelson the early lead as the local minor hockey grad, playing at the Okanagan Hockey Academy, scored his first junior goal.

Marcus Dahl make it 2-0 before the period ended, combining Tyler Parfeniuk and Colton Schell for a power play marker.

Currie, as he picked off a clearing pass at the Grand Forks blueline, beat Garrett Muir high over the glove with an unassisted goal. Dallon Stoddart then jammed the puck past Muir to give Nelson the commanding lead.

However, in the third Joey Cormano and Artsiom Kalashnikov scored 46 seconds apart to cut the lead in half and put fear into the heads of the Leafs.

“I don’t think it was any more difficult that we thought,” said Leaf coach Chris Shaw. “Grand Forks has put a pretty good team together now. They’ve acquired some pretty good players from Revelstoke and we knew they’re going to be pretty tough to play against.”

Nelson finished the game ahead on the shot counter with a 27-20 advantage. Darren Hogg played well to register the win in goal.

Friday, it was back to the usual trend for Nelson.

Beaver Valley, or should we say, Dallas Calvin, jumped into a 3-0 lead, building the margin to 5-1 en route to a 7-4 victory in Fruitvale.

It’s the third straight loss for the Leafs against the Hawks. Fact is Nelson has yet to beat the two front-runners in the Murdoch Division — Castlegar and Beaver Valley — this season.

“Slowly but surely, I think the next time we get Castlegar we’re really going to give them a good go,” explained Martens, eager to see how the new-look Leafs respond after making a few changes to the roster during the past few weeks.

“I think at the start of the year it was,” Martens said when asked if the Hawks and Rebels have the Leafs’ number. “But now that we’re more mature as a team, and have been able to come together as a team, I think we can pull it off and get a “W” over there.”

The weekend split pulled the Leafs even at 11-11 on the season. The fourth-place Leafs trail Spokane by six points in a race for third and are 12 behind division leading Castlegar.

Nelson travels to Grand Forks Thursday to play a return match against the Bruins.

Saturday the Leafs host Kamloops before concluding the three-games-in-four-days weekend with an afternoon contest against Columbia Valley.

BLUELINES: Linden Horswill was joined by OKA teammate John Sanders for both weekend games. . . .Nelson was missing Connor McLaughlin, who joined Trail Smokies of the BCHL for a road trip to Prince George and Quesnel. McLaughlin scored twice in Friday’s 5-3 win. . . .Also missing from the lineup due to injury was Walker Sidoni, Adrian Moyls, Raymond Reimer and Cameron Dobransky.