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Steady diet of Murdoch Division competition continues for Leafs

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
October 7th, 2016

It’s almost like a playoff series in October for the Nelson Leafs and the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.

The two Murdoch rivals will face off for the fourth time this Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season Friday night in Fruitvale with Nelson holding a 2-1 advantage in the season series thanks to a 3-2 double overtime win last week in the Heritage City.

“It certainly provides us a view of what we can expect to compete against to get out of our division,” said Leaf coach Mario DiBella when asked about the early season quirk in the schedule.

“I don’t think the team is getting tired of playing BV,” DiBella added.

“I think they’re enthusiastic about playing teams they have to beat come playoffs to get out of the Murdoch Division.”

Nelson returns home Saturday to face the Castlegar Rebels at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.

The Rebels have defeated Nelson twice this season — 3-2 and 5-4 in overtime.

Sandhu remains on Injury List

Leaf netminder Jason Sandhu remains on the injury list after suffering a lower body injury four games into the season.

The 20-year-old Chilliwack native began to skate again but is not spending much time between the pipes until the body heals.

Nelson was able to grab another goalie after then coaching staff acquired Devin Allen from the Melfort Mustangs of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

Allen was instrumental in the Leafs being able to rally from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Beaver Valley in double overtime last week.

Thompson on loan to Langley Rivermen

In keeping with team philosophy, the Leafs have loaned defenceman Dash Thompson to Langley of the BC Hockey League.

“Part of our philosophy is to make sure we’re helping with the development of these players so we wouldn’t hold a player back if we can accommodate the player playing at higher level in an AP position,” DiBella explained.

The Rivermen travels to Coquitlam Friday before hosting the Express in a return game Saturday and Trail Smoke Eaters Sunday.

Former Leaf Hulston off to Saskatchewan

Leafs experienced a brief visit from former center Levi Hulston.

DiBella said Hulston, after being released by Langley following a two-game stint, has decided to pursue his Junior A career with Humbolt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

“Humbolt pursued Levi all summer so once he was let go by Langley they made their pitch,” DiBella said.

“Levi did come to Nelson to practice with us but as a 19-year-old he felt this was his opportunity and I can appreciate that and wish him well.”

New players expected soon

DiBella said the Leafs are still tweaking the roster as the club enters October.

He said the team is expecting a forward and a defenceman into camp as soon as the weekend.

“The forwad is very fast with good hands has ability to put puck in the net while the D-man is 6’3″ and gives us the grit I feel we need to help the back end,” DiBella said.

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