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Strong start pushes Nelson Leafs to top of hockey charts

The defending KIJHL Champion, Beaver Valley Nitehawks travel to the Heritage City to tangle with the Leafs Friday at the NDCC Arena. — Bruce Fuhr, The Nelson Daily

The hot start by the Nelson Leafs has not gone unnoticed on the Junior B Hockey landscape.

The Green and White leave September and begin October near the top of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, and fifth overall in Canadian Junior B rankings.

“I would not say I am surprised per say,” said Leaf GM Lance Morey after squad put together a 6-1-2 record and complete the opening month of the season unbeaten in six games.

“I knew starting the year we had the talent to be a very good team.”

However, Morey isn’t quite ready to book the route for the Championship Parade quite yet.

“It is nice to see things falling in place, but it’s a long season and we do play in the toughest division in the league,” explained the Leafs GM.

“It will be a battle all year with Beaver Valley, Castlegar and Grand Forks.”

Speaking of Beaver Valley.

The Nitehawks invade the NDCC Arena to open the two-game home set for the Leafs Friday at 7 p.m.

“Friday is a huge game for our team, even this early in the season,” Morey said.

“BV has been the class of the KI and our Division for a few years and no one should take them lightly.”

Nelson managed to escape with a 1-0 victory over the defending KIJHL champs on opening night thanks to strong netminder by Josh Williams.

Not only did Williams register the shutout, but he also made a game-saving save in the final seconds to preserve the victory.

 “And, of course we have had great goaltending to date,” Morey said. “I don’t see that changing.”

Beaver Valley enters the game four points behind the Murdoch Division leading Leafs with a 4-3 record.

Success in the Murdoch Division is guaranteed by winning those big divisional games.

The Leafs pulled one out of the fire last weekend in Grand Forks, edging the Bruins 3-2 in double overtime.

Nelson dominated the game, out shooting the Bruins 55-25.

“The win in Grand Forks was huge for us,” Morey explained.

“We dominated the game from the opening puck drop. Their goalie was stellar that night and we had to fight for all five periods to come out with the two points.”

Saturday, Nelson hosts Spokane Braves.

The two games enable Leaf executive to host Parent Weekend by inviting all the parents of the players to visit Nelson to watch their boys in action.

“It’s also our Parent Weekend so we want to be sure our kids keep their emotions in check,” he said.

“Our coaches have done a good job of the team has no huge highs and lows during the game, and our older players have been great at leading by example.”

BLUELINES: After playing five of eight games at home in September, the schedule gets a little tougher for the Leafs with only three games at home in October. Games on the road include stops in Creston, Golden, Invermere, Kimberley, Spokane and Castlegar. . . .Josh Williams continues to be one of the better goalies in the league to start the season. Williams is unbeaten in five games and sits second overall in goalie standings with a 1.37 goals against average.