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Leafs battle fatigue to grab 7-5 win over Braves, move into first place in Murdoch Division

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
September 26th, 2011

By Bruce Fuhr
The Nelson Daily Sports

Man, was that ever ugly.

But to Colton Schell, come January, when the season is winding down, no one will care about how the Leafs outlasted the Spokane Braves 7-5 in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action one a cloudy, windy September day.

No one will worry about how the Green and White came close to letting a 5-1 lead slip through their fingers.

And nobody will give a hoot about how Nelson scored the win, just that when the final buzzer sounded it was the Leafs with seven and the Braves with only five giving the home side the all-important two points.

“It wasn’t as pretty as we wanted it, but it was a win,” Schell told The Nelson Daily after scoring twice to lead the Leafs to the Murdoch Division victory.

“We were tired from the bus ride home (Saturday from Spokane),” added Schell after the Leafs arrived in Nelson at 3 a.m. Sunday.

“No one slept on the bus on the way home so we looked a little disorganized on the ice today. But we got the two points.”

Both teams took turns on this day scoring in bunches.

It was the Leafs jumping to a 2-0 lead on goals by Nik Newman, on the power play, and Linden Horswill 35 seconds apart.

Orri Haman pounced on a turnover at the blueline with just over a minute remaining the first for Spokane’s first goal.

But Matti Jmaeff, finishing the game with four points, jammed in a rebound past Spokane netminder Branden Amatto 17 seconds later to restore the two-goal advantage.

Nelson increased its lead to 5-1 with eight minutes left in the second — the fifth goal coming on a nice dipsy-doodle move by Schell past Amatto on a three-on-one advantage.

But the Leafs got sloppy in the final five minutes, allowing the Braves to outscore the home side 3-1 on goals by Haman, Nick Farmer on the power play and Sean Collins.

“When we got goals the game was great but when (Spokane) started scoring is was hard because it was so hard for us that they were beating us to the puck,” Schell explained. “But in the end we found a way to win and that was all that matters.”

Nelson player-of-the-game Patrick Martens also has four points with a goal and three assists.

Brett Norman scored the final goal for Nelson.

Matt Thurston, with two seconds remaining on the clock, completed the scoring for Spokane.

The game was especially trying for Leaf backup Patrick Defoe.

With Leaf No. 1 backstop Andrew Walton wanting to rest a sore knee picked up during Friday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Kelowna Chiefs, Defoe, playing for a roster spot on the team, got his second start of the weekend.

But just like the rest of his teammates, struggled on a few plays. In the third, however, and with his mates doing their best to keep skating made some key saves to preserve the victory.

“(Patrick) played all right today, but I thought he played better (Saturday) in Spokane,” Schell said when asked about the rookie backstop.

Nelson, improving to 3-1-0-1, jumps into top spot in the Murdoch Division by taking five of six points during the three-game weekend, out shot the Braves 40-31.

Meanwhile, Spokane, falling to 1-5-0-0, did not disappoint head coach Mike Bay who knows there will be growing pains with the young Braves.

“(Slow starts) have been kind of that way from the beginning of the season,” Bay said. “It’s been like that all season. But we’re young, and (Nelson’s) young. We’re probably the only team in the league younger than Nelson which explains why it was such a crazy game today.”

“We’re going to take our lumps because we’re young we’re going to be better later,” Bay added.

OVERTIME: Sunday’s win was the first at home this season for Nelson after losses to Castlegar and Kelowna. . . .The Kelowna Chiefs did the Leafs a favour Saturday night be ending the undefeated streak by the Beaver Valley Nitehawks with a 6-5 win in Fruitvale. . . . Leaf backup goalie Patrick Defoe was playing for his roster spot during the weekend. But The Nelson Daily learned from a source close to the team the rookie backstop could rest a little easier as the Leafs plan to keep Defoe as backup to No. 1 Andrew Walton. . . .Nelson forward Colton Malmsten sat out Sunday’s game after picking up a mysterious fighting major in the final 10 minutes of Saturday’s game in Spokane. . . . Leaf forward Dustin Reimer, injuring a shoulder during Nelson’s season opener in Castlegar, remains on the injury list as does defenceman Blake Arcuri following off-season shoulder surgery.


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