Six Questions with Leaf coach Frank Maida
There’s a lot going for the Nelson Leafs hockey club and it’s only September.
Which just may send alarm bells for some fans as Green and White supporters remember all to well the collapse of 2013.
Nelson had just run off a long win streak and was facing Murdoch Division rival Castlegar Rebels in a first place showdown on the eve of the Christmas Holiday break.
Final score: Castlegar 6, Nelson 1.
The Leafs never really recovered as the squad played .500 hockey from Christmas but lost six in a row in February to fall out of top spot in the Murdoch Division.
The slide continued in the post season as Nelson lost out for the third straight season in the first round of the playoffs — last year to Beaver Valley — the worst part of the series loss was a third period collapse in the game-six clincher by the Hawks.
But that was last season.
And after a sweep of the exhibition season by Nelson, and the fact the Leafs host the Cyclone Taylor Cup and will be playing in April in 2014, the futures so bright the Nelson players are starting to wear shades.
Prior to the start of the Friday’s Kootenay International Junior Hockey League regular season, that sees Nelson open against defending champion Castlegar in the Sunflower City, The Nelson Daily Editor Bruce Fuhr put a few questions to Leaf skipper Frank Maida.
TND: After two seasons of coaching the Leafs and being knocked out in the first round, ironically by the recent two KIJHL champions, Beaver Valley (2012) and Castlegar (2013) how much pressure is on you as the skipper of this team to advance past the first round this season, especially with Nelson hosting the Cyclone Taylor Cup in April?
Frank Maida: In both years being knocked out by the league champions means we lost to a to a very good team. I believe in both years it could have been our team advancing. The playoff series with BV and Castlegar could have gone either way, they were so close.
TND: Explain what happened to the Leafs during the collapse down the stretch last season and how this team different from that team?
FM: I believe we put added pressure on ourselves by focusing on the points needed to clinch and not focusing on playing our game.
TND: You went out on the limb and traded a local product in Dallon Stoddart, for two players, to a Murdoch division rival. Why?
FM: I felt is was important to trade for three players but Dallon was a player Castlegar really wanted in the trade.
TND: What type of team can fans expect to see on the ice this season?
FM: A skilled, hard working team with speed.
TND: You added Nelson Leaf grad Sean Dooley to the coaching staff. What does Sean bring to the staff and what role will he play on the team?
FM: Sean brings good hockey knowledge and is a great players coach. I look forward to the upcoming season working with Bill and Sean.
TND: As host team for the 2014 Cyclone Taylor, the Leafs will be playing in April this season. Why is it important not to be knocked out early in the KIJHL playoffs?
FM: Our goal will be to win the playoffs this season. We are going to work all year for our goal and if we can achieve our goal it means we be the KIJHL rep playing in the Cyclone Taylor Cup.