Leafs embark on three-game swing through Okanagan Conference
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League schedule-maker was rather kind to the Nelson Leafs during the first seven weeks of the season.
However, now comes the hard part as the Leafs set out on the road for six in a row, starting last week in Creston.
And head coach Frank Maida wasn’t a real big fan of the preparation by the Green and White during the two games — both losses — in the East Kootenay and Fruitvale against the Nitehawks.
Which is why there was an urgent meeting right after Saturday’s 3-2 setback to Beaver Valley — the second in three meetings.
“Our focus wasn’t the greatest,” Maida told The Nelson Daily Thursday prior to practice.
“There’s preparation to being on the road, the traveling going into a new rink you haven’t seen before. We didn’t have a lot of focus (to start the road trip),” he added.
The Leafs get another chance to right a ship that has seen the team drop its last three games to fall out of top spot in the Murdoch Division. Nelson now sits three points behind the Beaver Valley Nitehawks heading into weekend action.
First up Friday is 7-6 Princeton Posse. Saturday gets another shot at former Leaf Dane Rupert and the Kelowna Chiefs before concluding the trip Sunday in Osoyoos against the defending KIJHL champion, Coyotes.
“Princeton is a small rink and the Posse usually has a big team,” Maida said when asked to give rundown of the weekend competition.
“Kelowna, we had a good game against them but ran into a hot goalie the only time we played them and Osoyoos, well, they’ll be looking for some revenge since we beat them in Nelson and it’s the third game of the weekend for us.”
But three games in three days is nothing new for the Leafs, one of two teams that has played 19 games this season.
“This is the first time all season we’ve had a week’s rest,” said Maida.
Maida and assistant coach Stu Linnen get three players off the injury list for the road trip — forwards Matti Jmaeff and Brett Norman and defenceman Walker Sidoni.
Defenceman Riley Henderson is listed as day-to-day, but will not play this weekend.
The news is not good for defenceman Blake Arcuri, who started the season on the injury list and will sit out another six weeks with an injured thumb.
Dustin Reimer is also back on the injury list with an upper body injury after playing four of the opening 19 games.
ICE CHIPS: Next home game for the Leafs is November 12 against the Grand Forks Border Bruins. . . . Nelson concludes the six-game road trip Thursday, November 10 in Fernie against the Ghostriders. . . . Leaf sniper Patrick Martens, currently riding a 14-game point streak, continues his assault on the KIJHL scoring title. Martens trails Craig Martin and Ryan Edwards, both of Beaver Valley, but three points. . . . Tryout defenceman Juilan Davis of Vancouver is expected back in the Nelson lineup for the weekend. Davis, 17, will advise the Leaf coaching staff of his future plans during the weekend.