Green and White graduates earn recognition as junior season comes to an end
Despite failing to advance past the first round of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs for the second consecutive year, the Nelson Leafs continue to show success off the ice as no less than three former graduates of the Green and White earned year end awards and a college scholarship.
Leading the way was Nelson Minor Hockey grad Adam Wheeldon, who won the Ed Shelly Memorial Award during the year-end banquet of the Trail Smoke Eaters.
Wheeldon, 17, finished the season for Trail with three goals and seven assists for 10 points while playing 47 games in his rookie season in the B.C. Hockey League.
Wheeldon no doubt will be counted on to lead the Smokies from pretenders to contenders in the BCHL Interior Division.
Wheeldon played last season for the Nelson Leafs.
In northern Alberta, former Leaf winger Gus Correale earned the Most Improved Players award as a member of the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Grande Prairie Storm.
Correale, who played for Nelson during the 2009-10 season scoring 14 goals and 29 assists for 43 points, was traded to Grande Prairie from Vernon Lakers.
Correale finished the season for Grande Prairie with 16 goals and 22 assists in 58 games.
Earlier this year, Correale’s former Leaf teammate, netminder Billy Faust, caught the eyes of college recruiters before accepting an offer to University of Vermont Catamounts starting in the fall.
Faust finished his final season in Nanaimo as a member of the Clippers with a 2.86 goals against average. The product of Alta Loma, California sported a 23-25 record for the Nanaimo.
Faust, who played for Nelson 2009-10 season, combined with teammate Matt Larose to lead the Leafs to the KIJHL final against Revelstoke Grizzlies.
However, injuries finally caught up to the Leafs as Nelson lost in five games to the Grizzlies, who went on to capture both the Cyclone Taylor and Keystone Cups.
Current grad Jonathon Petrash is off to Adrian College in Michigan. The veteran Leaf defenceman was recruited during the season by Adrian scouts.
It’s been the philosophy of Leaf management to develop players for bigger and better things in their respective hockey careers.