Leafs prepare for what promises to be a very grueling stretch drive
After jamming five games into a 10-day span to begin the New Year, the Nelson Leafs have been relaxing on easy street, playing three games in 20-day span — all, ironically, against the Castlegar Rebels.
Game one of the triple-header went to the Rebels, 2-1 in overtime.
Game two goes Friday at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.
However, after this brief late-season hiatus, the Leafs are faced with a February laced with games — nine from February 5-21.
A mistake, made during the summer by the former coaching regime, that has not gone unnoticed by the current staff.
“What’s most concerning to me are the seven games coming up (in February) in 12 to 14 days heading into the playoffs,” Leaf coach Mario DiBella explained to The Nelson Daily.
“That’s a great concern and we’re taking measures to deal with that so we don’t go into the playoffs with a lot of injuries.”
Of course DiBella and the rest of the coaching staff had no input into how the schedule was put together, having taken over the team in December.
Instead of dwelling on the negative, the coaches getting assistance from the off-ice staff to educate the players about their bodies.
“We’ve got the benefit of having an athletic therapist on staff who have been taking the players and working with them with regard to mobility and stretching . . . exercises that can be preventative medicine to help avoid injuries like pulled hamstrings, quads and groins,” said DiBella.
“We feel anything we can do now to help their bodies will only aid us on our playoff run.”
Nelson currently trails third-place Grand Forks Border Bruins by six points in Murdoch Division standings.
The Bruins have been on a tear of late, winning three straight against Kelowna, Fernie and Spokane.
So it’s looking like Nelson would play Murdoch Division leading Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the first round of the playoffs.
Williams still not ready for prime time with Leafs
Josh Williams, a Junior A netminder Nelson acquired before the roster deadline, remains inactive for the Leafs.
Coach DiBella said an injury that was first thought to be able to heal over time required surgery, forcing Williams to remain out of the lineup.
“We still have another week-and-a-half until we see Josh play his first game for us,” DiBella confessed.
“He had surgery to trim his meniscus last Friday and has improved steadily since then.”
The 18-year-old Williams came to Nelson from the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Nelson is going to be without the services of Nicholas Ketola as the Leaf forward continus to serve a suspension for a match penalty for hit-to-the-head. Ketola, gone for three games, is eligible to play February 6 against Spokane Braves. . . . Leafs have called up netminder Jared Martin from the Nelson/Castlegar Midget Reps squad to serve as backup to Patrick Ostermann. . . . The Leafs have lost the services of forward Malcolm Fenelon. The speedy forward, who came to Nelson from Columbia Valley, asked to leave the team. . . . Nelson & District Credit Union (NDCU) is hosting Member Appreciation night during the Friday, February 5, against Castlegar Rebels. Credit Union members are invited to present their NDCU MEMBER CARD debit card for a discounted admission for the game. NDCU members of all ages will be able to enter the draw for some great prizes during the third period, and the lucky season winners of the NDCU Puck-4-Bucks puck toss will toss one puck for a chance to win one $1000 NDCU term deposit.