Leafs get top marks halfway through KIJHL regular season
Half way through the Kootenay International season, the Nelson Leafs own the best record in the league at 20-1-1-3.
Ironically, the Green and White suffered through a three-game losing streak earlier in November before reeling off five straight wins to take a 10-point lead over the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in Murdoch Division standings.
Much of the success for Nelson has been in the offensive zone as Nelson has racked up 130 goals en route to the best goal differential in the league.
The Leafs also sport the top goal scorer in the entire KIJHL in Travis Wellman, tied with Nick Josephs of Kelowna Chiefs with 31 markers.
And the Leafs are also getting it done at the defensive end with a league low 73 goals against.
Nelson, host club for the 2014 Cyclone Taylor Cup in April, is back on home ice after playing five of six the previous games away from the friendly confines of the NDCC Arena.
The Nelson Daily talked with head coach Frank Maida on the team’s recent success.
The Nelson Daily: Is this team back on track after its recent three-game slide?
Frank Maida: I don’t think we were really in a slide. We really only lost in those three games, once in regulation. I don’t really call that a slide.
TND: Your last game you had only 14 skaters against Grand Forks. Are you concerned about injuries playing with a short bench?
F.M. We are getting our numbers back to where we need to be (defenceman J.J. Beitel and forward Bryce Nielsen are day to day while sniper Travis Wellman is scheduled to be back in the lineup after missing both games against Spokane and Grand Forks). We’ve been playing short staffed for the last 15 games and now were getting healthier and that’s helping.
TND: Are you at all worried about players playing too much and getting hurt?
F.M: I’m always worried about injuries and when rest is needed the boys get some time off. After the weekend, we take Sunday and Monday off, and Tuesday we’re right back at it.
TND: This team has proven it’s never out of games. As evident last weekend needing to rally past Grand Forks
F.M: Going back to the beginning of the season, we’ve proven this team is never out of it. We all understand it’s a 60-minute game and you have to play 60 minutes in order to win and that’s our focus going into every game and if we do fall behind we stick to the game plan.
TND: Nice to be back home for two games this weekend?
F.M: These are two really good teams coming to town in Kelowna (18-6-0-2) and North Okanagan (12-11-0-1). The boys are excited to play at home after a stint away so we’re expecting two real good games. . . .Two very strong teams that play their systems very well so we’ll have to bring our A-game.