Silver medal for Nelson Bantams at West Kootenay Championships
The Nelson Bantam Leafs came within one goal of winning the West Kootenay Minor Hockey League banner recently in Castlegar.
Couer d’ Alene built up a 3-0 lead en route to a 3-2 victory over the Nelson Leafs at the Bantam House Championships.
“(Coaches) were very happy with the teams success all year,” said Leafs coach Dave Zarikoff.
“The Leafs fought valiantly to try and tie it up,” Zarikoff added about the final game.
“Unfortunately time ran out and Couer d’ Alene skated away with the banner.”
Nelson went 3-0 in the preliminary round to end up seeded #1 going into the playoff round.
The Leafs opened with a narrow 7-5 victory over a persistent Grand Forks team.
Nelson’s goals came from Blair Sookro with two, Mike Zarikoff with four, including an empty net goal with 12 seconds left, and Alex Laing.
In Game 2 the Leafs defeated Greater Trail #3 5-2.
Zarikoff finished with two goals, and singles came from Max Spielman, Nick Haydu, and Ethan Grill.
The Leafs’ third game was against Boundary.
Nelson squeaked out a one goal victory during regular season play and expected to have their hands full.
However, the Leafs jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead by the end of the first period and cruised to an easy 11-2 victory.
Zarikoff scored five times, with Sookro and Spielman each netting a pair and singles coming from Grill and Ava Young.
Sunday morning the Leafs faced Greater Trail #1 in one of the semi-final games.
Greater Trail defeated playoff favourites Couer d’ Alene earlier in preliminary round play 4-1.
The Leaf’s were firing on all cylinders jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead after one period, before skating to a 12-1 victory.
The game turned into a penalty filled contest with no fewer than 4 Greater Trail players being ejected from the game and ending with 65 minutes in penalties.
Nelson came away with 24 minutes.
Leafs goals came from Zarikoff with four, Spielman had three and Sookro and Grill adding a pair each.
Assistant captain Ava Young chipped in with the other Nelson goal.
The final featured the Leafs against a very strong Couer d’ Alene team that defeated Nelson earlier in the year 8-2.
Couer d’ Alene struck first to end the opening period 1-0. Midway through the second period Couer d’ Alene added two quick goals to end the period 3-0.
Early in the third period Nelson coach Dave Zarikoff was handed an unsportsmanlike bench penalty for questioning an obvious icing call.
Alex Laing was able to net a shorthanded goal and close the Couer d’ Alene lead to 3-1.
With 6:29 left Mike Zarikoff fired one past Couer d’ Alene’s goaltender to close the gap to 3-2 but time ran out on the Nelson Minor Hockey squad.
Zarikoff said Nelson received outstanding goaltending all weekend from the duo of Kylan Palm and Josh Marsden while team Captain Noah Whiffen and Assistant Captain Cale O’Meara, along with Keanu Tromans, Young, and Haydu anchored the defense.
Forward Noah Marsh was outstanding, often being the first player back and pestered teams all weekend with his checking.