Leafs ride the Vlanich/Wellman offensive wave to two straight wins to open KIJHL season on fire
The Jamie Vlanich/Travis Wellman trade continues to pay instant dividends for the Nelson Leafs.
The two former Castlegar stars combined for seven points in two games to spark the Leafs to a Kootenay International Junior Hockey League opening weekend sweep over the Rebels Friday and Creston Valley Thunder Cats Saturday.
Nelson completed the weekend sweep by stopping the Cats 7-4 at the NDCC Arena.
“For sure, me and Wellman had a good playoff run and now we’re looking to bring is here,” Vlanich said minutes after scoring twice to pace the Leafs past Creston.
The Leafs looked to be unstoppable during the opening 23 minutes of the game, building a 6-0 advantage.
Goals by Tyler Garcia and Matt MacDonald less than three minutes into the game staked Nelson to the early 2-0 advantage.
Vlanich, with a pair, and Garcia, his second of the frame, gave Nelson a 5-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Carsen Willans on the power play early into the second increased the lead to an unconverted touchdown.
However, the Cats scored three times to end the frame before converting on the power play six minutes into the third to make the game interesting.
The comeback was short lived as Creston ran into penalty trouble allowing Nelson to convert on a two-man advantage power play to seal the victory.
Aaron Dunlap was the recipient of a nice three-way passing play to score on the power play.
Dunlap finished the game with three points.
“We still have to work on some systems and stuff but for now we’re looking pretty good,” Vlanich said when asked about the less-than-textbook game.
“For the limited practice we’ve had I feel we’re looking pretty good.”
Matt Murray, Trevor Hanna and Brandon Formosa, scoring twice, replied for Creston.
Nelson outshot the Cats 37-22 to make a winner out of Leaf netminder Adam Maida.
After playing seven games in 13 days, Nelson has a week off before hosting the Summerland Steam Friday at the NDCC Arena.
Game time is 7 p.m.
BLUELINES: Nelson opened the KIJHL season with a 5-2 road win in Castlegar. . . . Nelson Minor Hockey product Tyler Podgorenko was in the lineup for Creston after signing a card following a solid training camp with the Cats.