Leafs embark on three-game road swing; hoping to have Dylan Williamson in lineup
He came to the Leafs with great fanfare but Dylan Willamson has spent the past two weeks cooling his jets as BC Hockey sorts out whether the Calgary native can be a part of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Nelson Leafs or head back to Alberta to continue his hockey career.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll be in the lineup this weekend,” Leaf coach Dave McLellan said minutes after boarding a bus Thursday for Kamloops.
“I’m 100 percent sure he’ll be approved to play this weekend but the final decision is one that has to be made by BC Hockey.”
McLellan has been busy for the past week trying to get 16-year-old Williamson on the Leafs’ roster.
The problem is Williamson’s age.
As a 16-year-old the 6-foot, 160-pound forward can only play in his home province unless he has residency in BC.
But with Williamson’s mother having property in BC, that residency rule is lifted allowing the Prince Albert Raiders recruit to suit up for the Leafs.
Williamson was re-assigned to Nelson from Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League.
Heis the second player sent to the Leafs by Prince Albert GM Bruno Campese.
Earlier this season, towering defenceman Cody Paivarinta was sent to Nelson to develop for another shot at the WHL. The Abbotsford native has five points in 10 games with Nelson.
Williamson, who dressed for five exhibition games for Prince Albert, played last season for the Pursuit of Excellence U18 squad last season, finishing the season with 53 points.
Leafs get first taste of life on the road with three games
Hot meals will be replaced by sandwiches as the Nelson Leafs embark on a road trip that sees the KIJHL franchise log more than 1300 kilometres in four days.
And Leaf coach Dave McLellan wouldn’t have it any other way.
After spending the first six weeks of the season within minutes of the Heritage City, the Leafs travel to 100 Mile House Friday to open a three-game trek through the Doug Birks Division of the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference.
“For us this is the first significant travel we’ve done this season,” said McLellan.
“This will get us a chance to do some team building.”
“For the past month we’ve practiced with each other but the four-day trip will give us a chance to get to know each other,” McLellan added.
First stop on the northern tour is Kamloops, which will serve as a hub for the Leafs Thursday and after returning from the game in 100 Mile House Friday.
The Leafs will then travel to Revelstoke and Sicamous to conclude the trip Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
McLellan continues to ride Soles in goal
Look for Leafs netminder Brett Soles to get most of the work this weekend. McLellan is sticking to his coaching philosophy the team needs to have a number one goalie, and currently with a second-place spot in the top KIJHL goalie race, Soles is the man.
Soles has registered a 1.96 goals against average in seven games and is a winner in five of those games.
Back up netminder Adam Maida should see action in at least one of the three games.
Nelson, 7-2-2-1, enters the weekend holding a four-point lead in Murdoch standings over Beaver Valley and Castlegar.
Andrews on the shelf with upper body injury
McLellan is taking 21 players on the trip this weekend. However, one player not making it into the lineup is hard-hitting Blair Andrews.
The Calgary native has an upper body injury that will keep him off the ice for at least another two weeks.