Today’s Poll

Ex-Nelson Leaf players making noise at next level of hockey

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
April 16th, 2013

The Nelson Leafs franchise prides itself on moving to players onto the next level.

As the junior hockey concludes and most players ponder which to use, Titleist over Nike, one grad remains on the ice while another saw his career conclude.

Patrick Martens is off to the Royal Bank Cup after the Yorkton Terriers won the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Canalta Cup in six games over the Humboldt Broncos.

Meanwhile Dylan Walchuk — see — concluded his career after the Portland Winterhawks eliminated the Spokane Chiefs in Western Hockey League playoff action.

“It’s been a team philosophy of moving players onto the next level, whether is be Junior A, college or university,” said former Leaf coach Simon Wheeldon when asked about the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League franchise.

Martens, playing on and off for the Leafs the past two seasons — the Maple Ridge native toiled for Langley of the BC Hockey League for some of the 2011-12 season — found a home with the Terriers and was a key part of the Canalta Cup drive with 11 goals in 15 playoff games.

The six-foot, 190-pound Martens, two time Terriers monthly award winner during the season, also scored once in the Game six before Devon McMullen’s wrist shot found its way in with 28 seconds left in regulation to snap a 3-3 tie.

The Terriers advance to the Western Canada Cup in Nanaimo.

The five-team tournament also featuring the MJHL, AJHL, and BCHL Champs, and host Nanaimo Clippers, begins Saturday, April 27.

Yorkton meets host Clippers on opening night, the MJHL champions (Dauphin or Steinbach) the following afternoon, the AJHL champs (Brooks or Spruce Grove) the afternoon of Tue/Apr/30, and the BC reps (Surrey or Penticton) the afternoon of Thu/May/2 to conclude their round robin.

Martens and Walchuk are just one of many players the Leafs have ushered through the development league and onto bigger and better things.

Others include the likes of defenceman Brayden Sherbinin (Quinnipiac), forwards Chris Cucullu and Mike Lebler Iowa State NCCA Div III, Gus Correale (Lake Superior State University), Brett McKinnon and Shawn Hochhausen (Holy Cross and Alaska-Fairbanks of the NCAA respectively) and goalies Billy Faust (University of Vermont) and Matt Larose (University of Alabama-Huntsville).

“Don’t get me wrong we like to win, but we also like to move kids on to the next level,” Wheeldon said.

Martens, proof in the pudding, carries the Green and White colours into the Royal Bank Cup.


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