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Leafs hold off Hawks in New Year's Eve Murdoch Division clash

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
January 1st, 2015

The Nelson Leafs scored just enough goals, blocked just enough shots and managed to get the puck out of their zone just enough times in the final period to edge the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 4-3 in the annual New Year’s Eve Kootenay International Junior Hockey League clash Wednesday at the NDCC Arena.

Nelson not only halted a two-game losing skid to the defending KIJHL champs on New Year’s Eve, but also snapped Beaver Valley’s nine-game winning streak to climb to within two points of the Hawks in Murdoch Division standings.

“It was huge . . . especially against BV (Beaver Valley),” said Leaf star Rayce Miller following the game.

“They were on a big winning streak so it was good to shut them down right before the New Year. And it was good for us also to get a fresh start to start the New Year.”

Leading 4-1 after two periods on goals by MIller, with a pair, Matt MacDonald and newcomer Michael Rand, Nelson had to sweat this win out after the Hawks crept to within a goal with two minutes remaining in the period.

“We came out kind of flat,” said Miller when asked about the complete domination by the hard-charging Hawks.

“But I think towards the end, everyone on the team came together to gut this one out,” Miller added. “Everyone was blocking shots and doing what it takes to win.”

“They’re a good team but we were just better this game.”

Nelson led 1-0 after one period as MacDonald connected on the power play.

Rand made it 2-0 before cut the margin to 2-1 with eight minutes left in the second period.

That’s when Miller went to work, scoring twice in four minutes to give Nelson the big lead entering the final frame.

However, Beaver Valley turned up the tempo on the home side, out shooting the Leafs by a wide margin and scoring twice.

The second marker, a blast from the point, coming when Miller was unable to get the puck out of the Leaf defensive zone.

But Nelson was able to take this one home by keeping the Hawks away from the net.

The final clincher coming when MacDonald won a key faceoff in the Nelson end with six seconds remaining on the clock.

Nelson is once again back on the ice for a doubleheader weekend at home, beginning Saturday against Revelstoke Grizzlies at 7 p.m.

Sunday, the Leafs host 100 Mile House Wranglers beginning at 2:30 p.m..

Meanwhile, Beaver Valley looks to start another winning streak when the club hosts Revelstoke Friday at 7 p.m. in Fruitvale.

LEAF NOTES: The Leafs played the game without the services of captain Aaron Dunlap, who remained in Alaska. The Leaf leader is expected to be back with the team for the weekend series. . . . Also missing from the lineup were defenceman Patrick Croome, forwards Dylan Williamson, Blair Andrews and goalie Joey Karrer. The Leaf netminder was out of the lineup due to sickness. . . . Leaf head coach Dave McLellan missed both Beaver Valley games, but will rejoin the team Friday. . . . Nelson had lost the last three New Year’s Eve games — twice to Beaver Valley (3-2, 2013 — 7-5, 2012) and once to Spokane Braves (3-2, 2011).The last time Nelson won the afternoon tilt came in 2009 when Nelson double Spokane 4-2.

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