Leafs look to snap two-game skid, host Murdoch rivals in key weekend matchups
The month of December will go a long way to determining if the Nelson Leafs have what it takes to compete for the Murdoch Division title in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
After compiling a seven-game winning streak during November, the Leafs find themselves in a bit of a funk after dropping a pair of games to surging Castlegar Rebels.
The once-double-digit lead in Murdoch Division standing has now been reduced to four points with a tough divisional schedule on the horizon — three of the seven games in December coming against defending KIJHL Champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
“We need to get back to playing our game, moving our feet and get back to being the hardest working team on the ice game in and game out,” said Leaf GM Lance Morey.
“(Head coach) Mario (DiBella) and the coaches have worked hard all week in practice to get the boys back on track and the players I have chatted with feel that this weekend we will see a better effort from everybody and a strong step back towards the team we have been for most of the year.”
Despite owning the KIJHL for the first three months of the season, Nelson looked ordinary against the Rebels, who just happen to be the hottest team in the league after winning its sixth consecutive game against the Leafs last week.
In the two games, Nelson managed to put up a measly two goals while surrendering nine defensively.
Leafs may have been tired during the latter part of last week’s game after starting the contest with 15 skaters and losing two during the game.
However, Morey has been working the phones looking for Junior A replacements to bolster the Nelson lineup.
“We are still working on the three or four players we are looking to bring in from recent Junior A cuts,” Morey said.
“Realistically having them here in Nelson just after the Christmas break is our target date.”
“We may have one player acquisition to announce as early as (Friday) morning and could have him in the lineup for Saturday night’s game,” Morey added.
Facing BV Nitehawks always a test for Green and White
Friday, Nelson travels to Fruitvale to face the defending KIJHL Champs.
In two games this season, both in Nelson, the teams have split with the Leafs winning on opening night 1-0 and Beaver Valley clawing back a victory in early October 2-1.
In Nelson’s victory, the Leafs were led by netminder Josh Williams who proved to management he can steal games.
Williams, the league’s best goalie, will once again need to be at his best between the pipes as the Leafs have always had difficulty playing on the small ice surface at the Beaver Valley Arena.
Border Bruins pay first visit to Heritage City
It seems like an eternity since the Leafs have played a home game after Nelson spent most of November on the road.
And not only will Leaf fans be happy to see the home side against, but spectators get to see their first look at the Grand Forks Border Bruins, Saturday at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.
The Leafs have owned the Bruins this season, winning all three games in Grand Forks.
However, every one of those games Nelson has been pressed to escape with three one-goal victories.
Saturday, despite struggling to a sub-.500 record, the Bruins will no doubt prove to be a tough opponent for the Green and White.