Today’s Poll

Leafs Win! Leafs Win! Leafs eliminate Rebels from KIJHL Playoffs

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
March 4th, 2017

For once, the Nelson Leafs did not need overtime.

After winning three games in extra time, the Leafs needed only 60 minutes to eliminate the Castlegar Rebels from the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs.

Kyle Rosolowski banged home a rebound for the game’s only goal midway through the third period as Nelson edged Castlegar 1-0 in KIJHL Murdoch Division Semi Final action Friday before more than 1,000 fans at the NDCC Arena.

Nelson wins the best-of-seven series 4-2 and now advances to meet the well-rested Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the Murdoch Final beginning Tuesday in Fruitvale.

“It was great,” said Leaf veteran forward Dale Howell from outside the jubilant home dressing room.

“(Castlegar) has been our rival all season. They’re a great team so it feels even better to beat them.”

With the game scoreless through 48 minutes, the Leafs finally were able to break through on Rebel netminder Chandler Billinghurst.

Howell and Nicholas Wihak jumped over the Castlegar blueline before drilling a low shot Billinghurst was unable to corral.

Rosolowski, like he has done all season, joined the rush from his blueline position and was quick to slap the loose puck into the vacant net.

Nelson then rode the shutout netminder from Devin Allen, combined with solid play from the entire team to secure the series-clinching victory.

Castlegar pulled Billinghurst for the extra attack but Nelson kept the Rebel shooters to the outside of the ice and was able to run out the clock.

“There’s no quit in that dressing room,” Howell explained when asked how Nelson was able to bounce back after losing Game three of the series to win three straight and close out the Rebels.

“I mean it’s not always going to go our way, it’s not always going to go according to the game plan but I feel there’s no quick in that dressing room and everyone believes in each other.”

The series win is the first for the Leaf franchise since 2014 when Nelson defeated Spokane in the first round of the playoffs.

“I think after this win people understand that we’re back to being serious contender,” said Leaf head coach Mario DiBella.

“Regardless of how the regular season went for us, we’re now in the second season and are prepared to give Beaver Valley everything they can handle.”

SERIES NOTES: Friday’s game attendance was announced at 1024. . . . Friday’s game was the second shutout for Leaf goalie Devin Allen, who stopped 27 shots Friday, surrendered just two goals since Game three while posting a pair of 1-0 shutouts . . .  . This is the second consecutive season the Rebels have been knocked out of the playoffs by the third-place team. Last year, Grand Forks posted the upset. . . . Castlegar scored 73 more goals than Nelson during the regular season, but was held to 14 in the series. KIJHL scoring leader Logan Styler scored only three goals in the six games and had his 18-game point streak snapped in Game four.

Categories: Sports

Other News Stories