Leafs dump Thunder Cats 6-2; now ready to face Rebels
Creston had the perfect opportunity to sneak into the Heritage City under the cloak of night and steal two points from a team already looking to a Wednesday night showdown with their division rivals.
However, the Nelson Leafs put forth just enough effort to knock off the Thunder Cats 6-2 in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action Friday night at the NDCC Arena.
Nelson rode the offensive punch of three team leaders — Carsen Willans (three points), team captain Colton Schell (three points) and Linden Horswill (four points) — to a four-goal second period, then jumped on the shoulders of netminder Brett Soles to secure the victory against one of the league’s weaker teams.
“This win was definitely important . . . especially with Castlegar coming up (the Rebels face the Leafs Wednesday in Nelson),” Horswill said from outside the Leaf dressing room.
“We need the points to keep a margin between us and Castlegar.”
“We needed to rebuild our confidence especially with Castlegar coming up,” Schell later explained.”
Despite being out shot 9-8 in the opening frame it was the Leafs heading to the dressing room leading 1-0 on a goal by Major Midget affiliate player Brandon Sookro.
In the second Nelson increased its lead when a soft shot by Willans somehow found its way through the legs of Creston goalie Zach Straza less than three minutes into the second period.
Creston cut the lead on the power play.
With Schell in the box for high sticking, the Leaf defence completely deserted Soles, allowing Angus Johnston at least three kicks at the net before the Alberta native poked the puck into the Nelson goal.
However, any momentum gained by the Thunder Cats was erased when scored three times during a six-minute span with two of the goals coming on the power play.
Dustin Reimer got the offence going before Sookro, tapping in a neat pass from Willans, scored his second of the game and Seth Schmidt finished off the assault with a long point shot.
Willans, scoring Nelson’s third power play of the game, and Marcel Fuchs of the Cats exchanged goals in a period Creston held a 13-8 shots advantage.
“The second period was key and we also had a good start,” Schell explained.
“Our preparation was a lot better before this game.”
Soles, improving his season record to 13-1, faced 22 shots in the Leaf nets.
Nelson is idle until Wednesday when Castlegar visits the NDCC Arena for a 7 p.m. puck drop.
GAME NOTES: Nelson received an early Christmas present from divisional rival Beaver Valley as the Hawks stuck it to the Rebels 5-3 at the Hawks Nest. The Castlegar loss increases Nelson’s lead in the Murdoch Division to seven points with the Leafs having played an extra game. . . . Brandon Sookro now has three goals for the Leafs this season. The Kootenay Ice sniper also hit the post in the second period. Sookro and the Ice face Matthew Barzal and the Vancouver Northeast Chiefs in Major Midget action Saturday and Sunday in Castlegar. Barzal, the first overall Bantam pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL leads the Major Midget League ion scoring with 54 points in 19 games. . . .Nelson center Bryce Nielsen continues to be sidelined with an upper body injury.