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No pressure on Green and White as Leafs begin playoff run against Nitehawks

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
February 22nd, 2013

It’s obvious from the body language of the players on the ice, in the NDCC tunnel or during post-game interviews the Nelson Leafs is not a happy bunch.

So everybody relax already.

Most experts have already written off the Green and White after the team slumped to its seventh straight loss Saturday at home against the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League regular season champion, Castlegar Rebels.

The Rebels looked like pre-playoff favourites while the Leafs played like a shadow of the team that was ripping up the league in November.

But the Leafs don’t play the Rebels.

First up for the Green and White is the defending KIJHL champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks — a team Nelson has enjoyed great success this season.

Oh, did we say that success happened . . . you guessed it, early in the season. Which to those keeping score at home is in the past.

“That’s what we’re all thinking about right now . . . nobody is thinking about the regular season,” said Leaf captain Colton Schell.

“We’ve got no memories about the regular season,” Schell, the Leafs leading scorer this season. “Hopefully that will be our new season and we’ll be good in the playoffs.”

Nelson opens the Murdoch Division playoffs Friday in Fruitvale against the Hawks.

Game two is Saturday before the series shifts back to the NDCC Arena for games three and four Monday and Tuesday.

Game times in Nelson are 7 p.m.

After Nelson owned the Hawks through the first half of the season, Beaver Valley took over down the stretch, winning four straight since New Years Eve.

Of course no Beaver Valley playoff teams look the same from the one that starts the season as the Hawks coaching staff does what it takes to build a winner.

This year is no difference as coach Terry Jones fine-tuned the team from the one that was crushed 12-0 and 10-3 by Nelson earlier in the season.

Hawks added high scoring forwards Dallas Calvin and Ryan Edwards along with brusier Keanan Patershuk, and the Hawks haven’t looked back.

“I truly believe we have the team that can go far in the playoffs . . . we were first in all the league for much of the season until the last seven games,” said Schell, keeping the faith.

Schell is probably one of the few keeping the faith.

Which just might play into the hands of the struggling Green and White, which are not expected to do much.

“We got nothing to worry about . . . the pressure is on everybody else,” Schell said.

Marcus Beesley is expected to get the start against the Hawks while Jones may revert to his rotating strategy that won the Hawks the league title a year ago when Zach Perehudoff and last year’s grad Mike Vlanich played throughout the playoffs.

Jarrod Schamerhorn is the other Beaver Valley goalie.

LEAF NEWS: The Nelson Daily has learned that Leaf management has applied to host the Cyclone Taylor Cup in 2014. The provincial Junior B tournament rotates between the three leagues — KIJHL, Pacific Coast and Vancouver Island. Nelson submitted a bit the last time the KIJHL played host to the four-team, round-robin tournament in 2011 but lost out to Fernie. BC Hockey has the final say in determining the host city for the Cyclone Tournament. The host team gains an automatic bye into the four-team event with the three Junior B league winners. The 2013 tournament is being hosted by Comox Valley Glacier Kings April 11-13. . . . Castlegar hosts Spokane in the other Murdoch semi starting Friday in the Sunflower City. . . . The Golden Rockets opened the KIJHL playoffs with a 4-2 win Thursday over Kimberley Dynamiters.

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