From Rags to Riches — Leafs One Year After
What a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time of the season the Nelson Leafs were mired in a slump that saw the Buds win once in seven Kootenay International Junior Hockey League attempts during the month of November.
The Leafs, sitting near the bottom of the Murdoch Division standings, struggled to score and were giving up an average of almost four goals a game.
Fast forward to November 24th, 2017.
The Leafs, winners of six consecutive games, are the best team in the entire KIJHL with a record of 18-3-1-0-1.
Nelson has scored 92 goals while giving up a league low 43. The Leafs are led by the KIJHL top netminder, Josh Williams, who did not even play last weekend when Nelson swept a pair of road games against Eddie Mountain opposition — Golden Rockets and Fernie Ghostriders.
“I think we have a group that is starting to understand that when you are having success every team they play show’s up wanting to knock us off,” said Leaf GM Lance Morey.
“The group we have this year is a tight group that plays for each other and sticks up for each other. To this point we are getting production from everyone for the most part. We have scored more goals then any other team and we do not have a guy in the top 15 in scoring. It also does not hurt that we have a good group of d men and stellar goaltending.”
Nelson concludes a six-game road trip Friday in Grand Forks against a struggling Border Bruins team that has lost four in a row.
Can you spell “Trap Game.”
Nelson has won both games against the Bruins — 3-2 in overtime and 2-1, with both games being played in the Boundary City.
In the two games, Nelson has outshot the Bruins by a whopping 113-53 margin.
The Leafs return home to play only the team’s second game of November, Saturday, against the Castlegar Rebels.
Game time is 7 p.m.
Finally some recognition for Josh Williams
Even though Williams did not play last weekend for Nelson — Sam Burford registered both wins for the Leafs — the Calgary native remains the best goalie in the KIJHL with a 1.44 goals against average and 11 wins in 13 attempts.
Williams is also getting recognition from the league as the Leaf netminder appears on the league’s “Who’s Hot In The KI” profile.
Williams has 11 wins in 13 games with three shutouts and a .951 save average.
Leafs so far healthy, no deals pending
On the injury front, Nelson is relatively healthy with only defenceman Zach Morey slated to miss the games this weekend for precautionary reasons. Morey should be back playing by next weekend when the Leafs travel to Castlegar to face the Rebels Saturday, December 2.
GM Morey said management is currently actively working on a couple deals to better the club, but has nothing to report at this time.
Mental Health Advocate Myles Mattila, KIJHL featured on Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada
The KIJHL is going to receive some national exposure thanks a Sportsnet feature on Mental Health Awareness during the December 2 game between the Kelowna Chiefs and North Okanagan Knights.
The piece features Mental Health Advocate Myles Mattila and the Kelowna Chiefs.
Mattila, 18, an advocate for Mental Health awareness, is committed to creating positive changes in youth mental health, not only for his team and the KIJHL, but also for students and youth throughout our community and across the nation.
The feature will be aired across the nation on January 20, 2018 for Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada celebrating Canadians who are doing great work in the hockey community and beyond.