Today’s Poll

Three-game weekend set concludes preseason for Leafs

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
September 5th, 2014

It’s only September and already Leaf head coach Dave McLellan likes what he sees in his Kootenay International Junior Hockey League club.

“Phase one is training camp, and we’re done that now,” McLellan said Thursday prior to a three-game exhibition weekend.

“We’re now into phase two and I’m pretty happy with stuff that happened in (Wednesday’s) exhibition game — we battled back to tie — and our returning players.”

Nelson, scoring a 4-4 tie against Beaver Valley to begin the exhibition campaign, travels to Creston Friday before concluding the preseason at home against the Thunder Cats (Saturday) and Beaver Valley Nitehawks (Sunday).

McLellan is pleased with the defence that has a solid core of returning players in Darnel St. Pierre, Patrick Croome, Robson Cramer and Austin Seaman.

Up front, Blair Andrews, Austin Lindsay, Nelson Minor Hockey graduates Nolan Percival and Sam Weber, Rayce Miller, Aaron Dunlap and Alec Wilkinson return.

Adam Maida is the early candidate for starting goalie between the pipes.

“If Wednesday’s game is any indication, the fans can expect to see a physical game,” McLellan said when asked about this weekend’s games.

“We carried the play, had a good up-tempo pace. We were good in our own zone and were able to rally in the third period.”

Despite getting a late start on the rest of the KIJHL teams, McLellan has been working diligently with his junior contacts to fill out the balance of the team.

“This is a work in progress,” said McLellan.

McLellan said fans may see a few affiliate players in the lineup during the early part of the season as the Leafs continue to find the right players to fill out the roster.

 “You never know who might end up here coming out of Junior A teams plus I’ve got to finalize a couple of trades I’m working on to add to the mix,” said McLellan, already pleased with the working relationship with Kootenay Ice Major Midget coach Rob Wright.

“The start is the toughest part of the season especially at the Junior B level. You really don’t know your team until a week or two.”

Nelson opens the KIJHL regular season Friday, September 12 at home against Beaver Valley.

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