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Leafs open KIJHL season Friday against defending champs from Beaver Valley

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
September 11th, 2014

The colder weather can only mean one thing — hockey is back.

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season kicks of on five fronts as 19 teams look to dethrone defending champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks from the top of the podium.

The Hawks made the 2014 campaign a season for the history books as the Fruitvale-based squad swept all three Junior B titles— KIJHL, Cyclone Taylor and Keystone Cup.

The Nelson Leafs have the first opportunity to beat up on the Hawks as the Heritage City franchise hosts Beaver Valley in one of five games to open the season.

Game time is 7 p.m. at the NDCC Arena.

The Leafs enter the contest with a new coach in Dave McLellan, who replaces Frank Maida behind the bench.

The veteran skipper has been tested already, getting a late start to coaching the Green and White after being thrust into the coaching position late in the off-season when first pick, Matt Hughes surprisingly resigned.

McLellan has had his work cut out for him finding the right mix of players to roster the Leafs and fans should not be surprised if the opening night roster looks very different in a few weeks when a few more Junior A cuts filter into the dressing room.

What McLellan does have is a ton of experience on the blueline as no less than four quality defencemen — Darnel St. Pierre, Patrick Croome, Robson Cramer and Austin Lindsay — return to the Green and White.

Adam Maida is also back to hold down the backstopping duties. The Nelson Minor Hockey product hopes to rebound from an injury-plagued season.

Up front it’s work in progress as Nolan Percival is back along with Alaskan native Aaron Dunlap and versatile center Austin Lindsay.

McLellan has very little time to get the Leafs’ roster set as Nelson plays six of its first seven league games at home.

Saturday Nelson meets Castlegar Rebels at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena before hosting Kamloops Storm, Kimberley Dynamiters and Sicamous Eagles to round out September.

ICE CHIPS: Season tickets for the Leafs on sale at the Nelson Sports Council upstairs in the Chamber of Commerce building on Hall Street — 250-352-3989

Categories: Sports

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