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Leafs get jump on rest of KIJHL with mid-summer training camp at NDCC Arena

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
August 14th, 2017

While other Kootenay International Junior Hockey League players are still working in a few more rounds on the golf course or runs down the mountain bike trails, Nelson hopefuls were focusing on skating, stickhandling or filling the net at the Leafs training camp Sunday at the NDCC Arena.

Nelson coaches witnessed 40-plus players walk through the Green and White dressing room doors, each with goals of garnering one of those coveted spots on the Heritage City franchise.

“I believe we brought in a good crew of new players . . . some players that we’re really excited to have here to start the season with us,” said Leafs coach Mario DiBella shortly after watching the final scrimmage game Sunday morning.

Nelson’s camp is a few weeks ahead of most other clubs in the KIJHL.

 “We wanted to see the players before they attended Junior A training camps,” DiBella explained.

“For those who don’t make a Junior A roster, we want them to know they have a place to play here in Nelson . . . and to give those players a head start on their Junior A experience.”

The Leafs had eight returnees from last year’s team that was knocked out of the Murdoch Division Final to eventual KIJHL and Cyclone Taylor Champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks — led by captain Sawyer Hunt.

Also in camp was defencemen Zach Morey, Brendan McKay and Michael LeNoury as well as forwards Nick Wihak, Ryan Piva, Jack Karran and Logan Wollum.

Justin Podgorenko of the Castlegar Rebels also skated with the Leafs during the weekend.

“I believe we’re going to be real strong in net . . . we’ve got some goalies I feel will prove to be some of the top goaltenders in the league,” DiBella said.

“Certainly, we’ve got a good group of returning defencemen, one that’s not here and one that is who we feel will be stalwart players in this league.”

DiBella said the players have a week off, some to attend Junior A camps, before returning to the NDCC Arena ice for a mini-camp beginning August 23.

Four days later Nelson starts a six-game exhibition season with home-and-home series against Grand Forks, Beaver Valley and Castlegar.

The three Nelson home dates are September 1, 2 & 3 — against Beaver Valley, Castlegar and Grand Forks, respectively.

Nelson opens the KIJHL regular season Friday, September 8 against the defending KIJHL Champion from Fruitvale at 7 p.m. at the NDCC Arena.

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