Offence goes south, Leafs lose twice
By Bruce Fuhr,
The Nelson Daily Sports
It’s a coaches’ worst nightmare — a sputtering offence.
Chris Shaw and the Nelson Leafs can relate as the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League team saw its popgun offence stall once again during two weekend losses.
“It’s frustrating and I don’t know why it’s not going our way,” Leaf center Adrian Moyls said after the home side managed only 15 shots during a 2-0 loss to the Spokane Braves Saturday night at the NDCC Arena.
“We’re all snake bitten,” Moyls, second on the Leafs in scoring with 10 points, added. “We’re trying but we like griping the stick too much. We’re going to the net and trying as hard as we can but it’s just not going our way right now.”
Fresh off a 5-1 setback Friday night in Castlegar against the Rebels, fans would have thought the Leafs jumped all over the Braves to start the game.
However, it was Mike Bay’s troops who dominated the opening frame by out shooting the Leafs 18-5 and out scoring the home side 1-0.
Jesse Collins gave teammate Garrett Barr all the goals he would need in the Spokane nets with a maker seconds into the game.
“(Overconfidence) is something we addressed before (the game),” said Leaf coach and GM, Chris Shaw. “That’s now (Spokane’s) sixth win in a row and they’re probably the hottest team in the KI right now.
“We had spoken about that and it was addressed but once again we came out flat and that’s been a problem with us since the start of the year.”
As if the first period wasn’t bad enough for the Leafs. The second was almost worse as Nelson mustered only three shots at Barr.
The Leafs more than doubled that second-period output in the third, firing seven shots at Barr. But most of those shots came in the final two minutes when Shaw pulled starter Marcus Beesley for an extra attacker.
“We’re kind of on a rollercoaster,” Shaw admitted. “I think it’s just inconsistency. As far as tonight Spokane didn’t give us any chances to get quality shots on net. They played a hell of a hockey game.”
“I think our effort overall just wasn’t there,” Shaw added. “I thought our effort (Friday) night (against Castlegar) was pretty good. I think we out-chanced Castlegar, but we just had no finish.”
Uriah Machuga scored an insurance marker for Spokane late in the second to complete the scoring. Final shots were 32-15 in favour of the Braves.
Friday night, Leaf killer Erik Wentzel scored three times as the Rebels defeated Nelson for the third time this season.
During those three games Castlegar has outscored the Leafs 13-2 with Wentzel registering six of the markers.
Patrick Martens scored the only goal of the weekend for Nelson, which out shot the Rebels 27-25.
“It’s just a matter of guys who are goal scorers need to score goals and they haven’t been doing that,” said Shaw about the recent funk.
Shaw doesn’t expect to make wholesale changes to energize the offence. He’s simply going back to the drawing board once again for some “plain old hard work in practice.”
LEAF NOTES: New recruit Kyle Alexander received his first taste of action for Nelson after being acquired last week from Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. . . .Nelson hosts Grand Forks Saturday before paying a return visit to Spokane Sunday. . . . Nelson is 5-8 on the season and 2-7 against Neil Murdoch teams. . . .Gavin Currie leads the Leafs in scoring with 12 points. In contrast, Ryan Aynsley of Castlegar and Taylor House of Osoyoos are tied for top spot in KIJHL scoring, each with 26 points.