Three-point weekend keeps Leafs on top of Murdoch Division
It’s not often in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League two teams play to a 1-1 tie.
However, that’s what happened Saturday as the Nelson Leafs and Castlegar Rebels battled to the overtime draw in the Sunflower City.
“Last night was a game where we really dominated the play . . . from the get-go to the end but we just didn’t capitalize on the many quality scoring chances we had,” said Leaf coach Dave McLellan Sunday.
“We practically outplayed Castlegar, we just couldn’t find a way to score.”
All the scoring happened in the opening frame when Lindan Calliou for the Rebels and Leafs Darnel St. Pierre scored less than a minute apart.
Castlegar’s goal came against the flow and in a period Nelson out shot the home side 10-3.
After that it was a battle between the two goalies — Patrick Zubick, the busier of the two, and Brett Soles.
“We’re a tough team to play against . . . last night in my estimation we limited Castlegar to (26 shots) and when you’re doing that your team is heading in the right direction,” McLellan explained.
The Leafs were lifted by the return of last year’s captain Darnel St. Pierre to the blueline after the hard-hitting blueliner sat out the last two games with a suspension.
St. Pierre’s presence definitely helped the Leafs, who lost another defender, Patrick Croome early in the game due to a checking-from-behind penalty.
“Darnel (St. Pierre) returned and had a real great game for us last night,” McLellan said. “We’ve been really lucky that way, if someone is out we’ve had guys step up to replace them.”
“We’ve been a little bit banged up as well, but it’s still early and we’re always trying to get better,” McLellan added.
Nelson finished the game out shooting the Rebels 47-26.
Soles got the start in both games to raise his season record to 4-0-0-1.
“We just want to get one guy going and Adam is going to be back in the net here soon,” said McLellan when asked if there was anything wrong with his other netminder, Adam Maida.
“With both (Adam Maida and Brett Soles) being two pretty good goaltenders we wanted to get one of them going and need one to be the starter and with Brett we’re sort of leaning to more maturity.”
The three-point weekend keeps the Leafs in top spot in the Murdoch Division.
Nelson, 5-1-2-1, holds a three-point lead over Spokane Braves and Grand Forks Border Bruins heading into Sunday action.
Nelson returns home to complete what has been a steady string of games at the NDCC Arena Friday and Saturday.
The Leafs open the three-game weekend against the Rebels before welcoming the Spokane Braves for a Saturday tilt.
Both games begin at 7 p.m.
Sunday Nelson travels to Castlegar for an afternoon game against the Rebels.
BLUELINES: Team captain Aaron Dunlap missed both games with an upper body injury. The Alaskan native should be ready to return for the upcoming three-game weekend . . .. The three-game set is also dubbed as Parent Weekend for the Leafs. The franchise welcomes the player’s parents to watch all three games. Coach Dave McLellan said the weekend is a great opportunity for the players . . .. While Nelson is having a great start to the season, Osoyoos is having an incredible beginning; having won all 10 games played this season. The Coyotes hold a commanding 10-point advantage over second-place Summerland in Okanagan Division standings. Osoyoos leads the league in offence with 59 goals and holds plus-33 goals for-goals against average.