News on Gray coming soon, Nelson Leafs take flight for two game East Kootenay road trip
By Bruce Fuhr
The Nelson Daily Sports
The Nelson Leaf may have to wait until the cows to come home before the brass of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League makes a decision on the status of former Osoyoos Coyote forward Josh Gray.
Meaning Gray may never place a skate blade on the NDCC Arena ice.
Then again, just when you think the KIJHL is going to drag their boots on this problem, a decision could come down sooner than later.
“I think they’re be something coming down soon,” KIJHL president Bill Ohlhausen told The Nelson Daily Thursday night.
“I think they’ll be something decided by the (Friday) afternoon.”
Which doesn’t help Nelson, if at all, in the immediate future as the team prepares for an East Kootenay road trip.
So the Green and White need to buckle down and get ready for playoff time with the current Leaf roster, which now includes sniper Patrick Martens.
“I felt a lot of energy in the dressing room as soon as I came back . . . I feel the team is bonding more so now than when I was here before,” Martens said following Nelson’s 4-3 overtime loss last Saturday to Fernie.
For those keeping score at home Gray was thought to be dealt to Nelson before being quietly shuffled off to Kimberley for 1992 defenceman Lane Koentges.
Leaf management protested and now the future of Gray is in the hands of KIJHL president Bill Ohlhausen.
“I haven’t heard anything yet,” said Leaf coach and GM Frank Maida. “I thought I’d heard something by now but I haven’t yet.”
Gray probably would make an immediate impact for the Leafs, third in the Murdoch Division miles behind Castlegar Rebels and division-leading Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
But for now, the Leaf must rely on the remaining players in the dressing room, including Martens who was on fire before heading off to the Langley Rivermen of the BCHL in the fall.
“I just think we have to work on the little things we don’t think we’re doing so well,” Martens said, when asked what the Leafs need to accomplish heading into the final games of the season.
“We have to capitalize on the scoring chances, work on the little things we need to get out of our zone and play our systems.”
Nelson gets a great chance to prove the wheel is not broken when the club travels to the Eddie Mountain Division to face Golden Rockets (Friday) and Columbia Valley (Saturday).
The Rockets and Rockies occupy the bottom of the Eddie Mountain Division, with Columbia Valley winning just three times this season.
Nelson returns home to face Castlegar in a home-and-home series beginning January 27 at the NDCC Arena.
The games begin a 10 in 11 game stretch against Murdoch competition.
LEAF NOTES: Coach and GM Frank Maida said the Leafs are as healthy as the team has been all season with no major injuries to report. . . .California native Nick Newman leads the Leafs in scoring with a two point lead over teammate Brett Norman. Despite playing his last game in the KIJHL November 6, Partrick Martens is fourth with 40 points. Martens scored once in a first game back against Fernie.