Injury-riddled Leafs move back atop Murdoch after 5-1 win over Braves
The Nelson Leafs continue to find ways to win.
Despite an injury bug that has riddled the team for past month, the Leafs were able to stuff the Spokane Braves 5-1 in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League victory Tuesday night at the NDCC Arena.
“It’s a concern but it does allow us to get some affiliate players into the roster,” said Leaf coach Dave McLellan.
Against the Murdoch Division rivals, three players from the Kootenay Ice of the BC Major Midget Hockey League — Ainge McGready-Bruce, Keaton Roch and Matthew Brind “Amour — helped fill some of the holes in the lineup created by injuries to forwards Dylan Williamson, Timothy Nichols, Blair Andrews and defenceman Patrick Croome.
Aaron Dunlap, Austin Lindsay, Michael Crawford, Darnel St. Pierre and newcomer Joel Huber scored for the Leafs.
Tanner Stolz scored the lone goal of the game for Spokane in the third period.
Joey Karrer had a light night of work between the pipes, stopping 22 of 23 shots as the home side held periods leads of 1-0 and 4-0.
McLellan had hoped to find some help for the depleted lineup via the trade wire but the Leaf coach didn’t find any dance partners prior to Monday’s December 1 BC Hockey roster deadline.
Teams must declare their roster, up to 25 players, before midnight Monday.
The only move McLellan made was release forward Aidan Geiger.
The move reduces the roster to 20 players, and leaves McLellan with five cards available to make additions to the team before the final roster deadline January 10, 2015.
“We really know what we want to accomplish by January 10 so we got our roster down to 20 which made sense for us going forward,” McLellan explained.
“We’re going to carry five cards over from now until January 10. This allows us to do the things we wanted to when players become available.”
“We felt that was more important with the short window between the (Christmas) break and January 10,” McLellan added.
Despite all the headaches the Leafs have experienced with regards to the injury bug, Nelson remains in the hunt for top spot in the division.
“It’s a credit to the hardworking group we have here,” said McLellan when asked about the reason for the team success.
“I hope it’s our structure too,” he adds.
“We play a structured style of play so we make it tough on teams to generate offence against us. We’ve done a good job of that all year hopefully it can continue.”
Nelson, moving into sole posession of top spot in the Murdoch Division, two points ahead of Castlegar Rebels, has six games remaining before the Christmas break.
The Leafs embark on a two-game swing through the Eddie Mountain Division, beginning Friday in Golden against the Rockets.
Nelson plays Kimberley Dynamiters Saturday.
The 18-6-2-1-2 Leafs travel to Grand Forks December 12 before returning home the next night, December 13, to host the Braves again.
ICE CHIPS: Nelson’s wounded Dylan Williamson, Timothy Nichols, Blair Andrews and defenceman Patrick Croome all could be out of the lineup for what could be an extended period of time. Andrews has played two games since October 14. . . . Joel Huber, Matt MacDonald, Darnel St. Pierre, Austin Lindsay, and team captain Aaron Dunlap each finished the game with two points. . . .Nelson out shot the Braves 37-23. Ironically, the Braves are the next home opponents as Nelson heads out on a three-game trip away from the NDCC Arena, starting Friday in the East Kootenay.