Leafs find ways to keep winning, increase streak to nine games
It wasn’t something Pablo Picasso would have been proud to put his name to, but it was still a win.
The Nelson Leafs scratched together enough good hockey in Saturday’s tilt against the Golden Rockets to squeak out a 5-3 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League victory at the NDCC Arena.
The win increased Nelson’s consecutive victory streak to nine and kept the Leafs in front of second-place Castlegar Rebels in the Neil Murdoch Division.
“Two points is all we wanted,” said Leaf defenceman J.J. Beitel, who scored the winning goal on the power play in the third period.
“We’ve had a good last couple of months and we’ll take the wins anyway they come.”
Saturday’s game was the second in as many nights the Leafs have been pushed.
Friday Grand Forks gave Nelson all they could handle in a 4-1 Leaf win.
“We stress a lot in the dressing room to take each team like they’re the top team,” Beitel explains.
“Sometimes it’s a little harder to get up for some teams, but we’re getting the wins so we can’t really complain.”
It’s not like the Rockets are a bad team. The Eddie Mountain opponent sits third in division standings eight points behind Fernie with a 10-9-0-2 record.
Fans just didn’t see the same team that waxed Beaver Valley a week ago 12-0.
Saturday, the Rockets matched Nelson in goals through 40 minutes.
Linden Horswill, Colton Schell and Bryce Nielsen scored for the Leafs while Keith Wake, with a pair, and Jacob Bergeron replied for the Rockets.
However, in the third the Leafs managed to finally wear the Rockets down, taking advantage of its third power play of the frame to snap the 3-3 tie.
“Everyone is playing well right now, everyone is has been chipping into the streak,” said Beitel.
Aaron Dunlap sealed the victory with an empty net goal in the final minute.
Nelson out shot the Rockets 41-25 making a winner out of Brett Soles.
James Leonard took the loss in goal for Golden.
The Leafs now travel to Fruitvale Tuesday for a mid-week encounter against the Nitehawks.
Beaver Valley definitely won’t be in a good mood having lost 12-0 to Nelson the last time the teams played.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the defending KIJHL champs dropped a 3-0 decision Saturday to the Grand Forks Border Bruins.
The Bruins, snapping a 19-game winless streak, have only two wins this season, both coming against the Hawks.
Goalie Dominic Stadnyk was the story in this game, stopping all 58 shots the Hawks fired at him.
BLUELINES: Nelson is expected to have sniper Colton McCarthy back in the lineup. The Salmon Arm player recently completed a three-game stint with Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. After two straight losses, the Tribe scored a 4-1 win over Kootenay Ice Saturday in Cranbrook. McCarthy was held off the score sheet. Castlegar kept pace with Nelson by stopping Spokane Saturday.