The unofficial Christmas break for the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League could not have come sooner for the Nelson Leafs.
The Green and White were swept in weekend games against Murdoch rival Spokane Braves, falling 2-1 Friday at the NDCC Arena and 4-1 Saturday in the Lilac City.
The losses added to an already horrendous month of December where Nelson has posted a 2-5 record. Going back to mid-November, the Leafs have managed to put together a dismal 3-9 record and are quickly falling out of the running for the Murdoch Division title.
Nelson currently trails first-place Beaver Valley by three points in Murdoch standings. However, the Leafs have played three more games than the Nitehawks.
Saturday, despite outshooting the Braves 44-42, the Leafs could only must one goal against former teammate Austin Madge. Madge, seeing his first action for the Braves, was let go by Nelson after playing two games for Nelson.
After the teams traded first-period goals — Ryan McKenna scoring for Spokane and Adam Diotte replying for Nelson — Owen Miley scored what proved to be the winner in the second period against Leaf goalie Tenzin Mint.
Jettson Smutek scored twice in the third to secure the victory for Spokane, winners of the last three against the Green and White after Nelson won the first two games of the season series.
Friday, goals by Matthew Klenk, in the second period, and Nate Wilson, in the third, was all the scoring Spokane would need to edge the hometown Leafs.
Reid Wilson gave Nelson some life with a goal late in the third but Marcello De Antunano shut the door on the Leafs offence in the final minutes to steal the road win for Spokane.
Spokane outshot the Leafs on the night 32-27 sending Nelson goal Anderson Violette to his third loss in the past five games.
LEAF NOTES: Nelson was able to stop the bleeding for one game after the Leafs edged Castlegar Rebels 3-2 in overtime Tuesday in the Sunflower City. Rookie Joe Davidson netted the winner, his third of the game, two minutes into the first extra frame. The Nelson Minor Hockey grad has 11 goals in 29 games for Nelson. . . .The Leafs return to action for the New Year’s Eve encounter against Beaver Valley Nitehawks. Game time is 2 p.m. at the NDCC Arena.