Leafs hold off Nitros 3-1 to keep undefeated streak alive
At 5’5” and 140-pounds, Travis Wellman doesn’t overpower a lot of players with his size.
However, Wellman has a gift many big men would love to have, and that’s scoring goals.
The Calgary native scored his league leading 12th and 13th goals of the season to lift the Nelson Leafs past the Kimberley Dynamiters 3-1 in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action Saturday night at the NDCC Arena.
The contest matched two of the KIJHL’s elite teams.
And the matchup did not disappoint the home fans, as Leafs needed a shorthanded tally by Wellman late in the third period to secure the victory.
“That was a pretty hard-fought battle compare and pretty fast passed compare to some of the teams we’ve played this year,” Wellman said prior to an interview with Nelson play-by-play man Joe Capriglione on Leaf Internet Television.
“But we played a good team game between the whistles and were fortunate to come out on top.”
The game was the second time in as many nights the Leafs faced a team from the Eddie Mountain Division.
Nelson played well against the Columbia Valley Rockies, but ran into Brody Nelson between the pipes for the Eddie Mountain club before settling for a 2-2 tie.
Saturday it was another test as the Kimberley entered the contest sporting a 5-0-1 mark.
The Nitros jumped all over the Green and White, holding a large territorial advantage with a 13-3 shots advantage, but Tyler Moffat stood tall in the Leaf nets to keep the game scoreless after one.
Wellman opened the scoring in the second before Charles Dagostin replied midway through the third.
The Leafs appeared to be heading for extra time for the second consecutive night before Wellman deposited a rebound into the top of the net for the game-winner after linemate Jamie Vlanich was foiled by Kimberley netminder Tyson Brouwer.
“I think we just played a team game . . . got pucks deep and battled hard throughout,” explained Wellman on the keys to the win.
“We stayed out of the shenanigans after the whistle and just really battled.”
Vlanich scored an insurance marker with time running out to complete the scoring.
Moffat made 26 saves to register the win as Kimberley out shot the Leafs 27-21.
Friday, Nelson and Columbia Valley played through 10 minutes of extra time before settling for the 2-2 tie.
Darnel St. Pierre and Vlanich scored power play markers for Nelson while Kirk Lissel and Doan Smith replied for the Rockies.
Nelson led 2-1 in the final stages of the game before Smith scored with just over two minutes remaining in the period to force overtime.
Nelson out shot the Rockies 55-28, but had difficulty beating Rockies goalie Brody Nelson.
BLUELINES: The Leafs assume top spot in the Neil Murdoch Division after Osoyoos Coyotes dumped Beaver Valley 4-1 Saturday at the Hawks Nest. Nelson, 6-0-1, leads the Hawks by one point. . . .Nelson gets a steady diet of divisional action this weekend as the Leafs host both Beaver Valley and Castlegar during Family Weekend. Beaver Valley travels to the NDCC Arena Friday while Castlegar visits Sunday. Saturday Nelson meets the Rebels in the Sunflower City. . . . Thanks to a four-point weekend, Leafs Jamie Vlanich sits second in KIJHL scoring behind Jackson Purvis of Grand Forks. Vlanich has six goals and 13 assists for 19 points, one behind Purvis. . . . Travis Wellman, kept of the score sheet for the first time this season Friday against Columbia Valley, is tied for sixth with 15 points, but leads the league in goals with 13.