Leafs complete deal for Grand Forks sniper Connor Gross
Nelson Leafs coach Frank Maida made a move Boxing Day to deal with the loss of two key players from the lineup in the final weeks leading up to the Kootenay International Junior HocChristmas break.
Maida, in his second season at the helm of the Leafs, acquired 18-year-old Connor Gross from the Grand Forks Border Bruins for future considerations.
“(Center) Colton McCarthy leaving (to WHL) created a spot and Connor brings offence to fill that loss,” Maida told The Nelson Daily Wednesday.
Gross, from Lethbridge, Alta., has scored 18 goals while adding 17 assists for the lowly Bruins in 35 games this season and is currently on six-game point streak.
During that recent hot streak, Grossm who leads the Border Bruins in scoring, has scored five goals for 11 points.
Of course the Leafs are still reeling from the loss of McCarthy, who as a 16-year-old was a shoe-in for the KIJHL rookie of the year award.
The Salmon Arm prospect was tearing up the league in scoring 21 times in 26 games before departing for Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League earlier this month.
McCarthy decided it was time to make the jump to Tier I Junior A.
The loss of McCarthy was not the only bad news Nelson received.
Nelson lost the services of Matthew Naka who suffered a broken ankle in a freak off-ice accident.
The loss of two key cogs in the Nelson roster, combined with a 6-1 shellacking the Leafs received at the hands of the Castlegar Rebels prior to the Christmas Break, may have been the final push for Maida to make the lineup move.
Gross is expected to be in the Nelson lineup when the Green and White return to ice for the unofficial second half of the season starting Friday at home against the Spokane Braves.
Game time is 7 p.m.
Saturday Nelson travels to the Lilac City for a return half of the home-and-home series.
Monday, Nelson hosts Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the traditional New Years Eve clash at the NDCC Arena.
Game time is 2:30 p.m.
Nelson currently leads the Murdoch Division by a slim two points over Castlegar and holds a six-point advantage over the surging Beaver Valley Nitehawks.