Spokane Braves spoil New Year's Eve party for Leafs, edge home side 3-2
By Bruce Fuhr
The Nelson Daily Sports
No doubt the Nelson Leafs are happy to see the close of 2011.
Because after playing perhaps one of their worst games of the season New Year’s Eve things can’t get any worse for the Green and White heading into 2012.
Brandon Amatto stopped 24 of 26 shots to backstop the Spokane Braves to a 3-2 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League victory over the Leafs Saturday afternoon at the NDCC Arena.
The loss erases a perfect opportunity for Nelson to climb up the Murdoch standings after division-leading Beaver Valley was beaten twice this weekend by the Castlegar Rebels and comes on the heels of a 7-1 trouncing the Leafs dealt Spokane Friday in the Lilac City.
“I think (Friday) we came into the game prepared but today we had a bit of complacency,” said Leaf captain Tyler Parfeniuk.”
“We came in pretty confident . . . after the first it was all right,” Parfeniuk added. “But the second period kind of killed us.”
Critics may disagree with the Leaf captain.
Needing a late goal by Nick Newman in the first period to finish the frame tied against a team Nelson dominated the night before is not the way Leaf coach Frank Maida explained the game plan to the team before the game started.
And it definitely wasn’t the way the game was to play out in the second when Spokane scored twice in the period, the second goal coming on a breakaway by Alex Marmon after the Leafs defence whiffed on a puck at the opposition blue line.
Trailing 3-1 after two periods, Nelson got some life in the second when Dallon Stoddart crashed the net to beat Amatto from close range.
But the 20-year-old Spokane native slammed the door on the Leaf shooters the rest of the game shedding some light on what has been a less than great season.
“I think the past month hasn’t been the greatest of hockey for us so I will be nice to go into the next month fresh,” Parfeniuk said, looking to take some positive out of the conclusion to 2011.
“It will be nice to get a week off and get right back at it next week.”
Dylan Tappe, on the power play in the first period, and Uriah Machuga in the second completed the scoring for the 15-18-1 Braves.
Nelson, 20-14-0-2, out shot Spokane 26-20 in the game, but only after a third-period push that saw the hosts with a 13-6 advantage.
Friday, the Leafs held a 39-31 advantage including an 11-5 total in the second period.
The Leafs finish the month of December 3-5 with four losses coming against Murdoch Division opponents.
Nelson begins a three-game home stand Friday when the team hosts Princeton Posse at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.
Saturday, the Leafs welcome the lowly Grand Forks Border Bruins.
LEAF NOTES: Friday, Brett Norman led the charge with two goals and three assists. Jonathon Petrash also scored twice while adding a helper. Carsen Willans, Matti Jmaeff and Nick Newman had singles. Newman and Linden Horswill each had three points while Jmaeff and Colten Schell had two points. Kurtis Redding scored the lone goal for the Braves. Andrew Walton earned the win in goal for Nelson. . . .Friday’s game was delayed 45 minutes when glass at the Spokane end of the ice was shattered during warm-up. The result saw the Leafs get back into Nelson at 3:30 a.m. . . . Forward Colton Malmsten and defenceman Julian Davis were scratches for Saturday. . . .The Leafs currently have 22 players on the roster, which means coach Frank Maida has one more card available before the upcoming B.C. Hockey roster deadline. . . . The Braves played Saturday’s game without head coach Mike Bay behind the bench.