Piva scores twice as Leafs edge Border Bruins
Nelson head coach Mario DiBella has seen a lot of good things from his Leafs team this season.
Tuesday, the veteran skipper saw the shorthanded Green and White rise to the occasion, gutting out a 2-0 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League victory over the Grand Forks Border Bruins at the NDCC Arena.
The victory, coming with a core group of regulars missing from the lineup with either suspensions or injuries, keeps the Leafs on top of the Murdoch Division, for now, three points in front of the Castlegar Rebels.
Castlegar has a chance to take over the Murdoch Division lead with a pair of games before the Christmas Break. The Rebels, winners of 10 straight games, host Creston Wednesday and Grand Forks Friday.
The Leafs began Tuesday’s Murdoch Division contest without Logan Wullum and Dash Thompson were each handed one-game penalties, while Brent Headon is gone three games following the post-game brawl Saturday against Castlegar.
Add to the mix Jack Karran and Nicholas Wihak, who both suffered upper-body injuries Saturday, and Ethan Land, also out serving a suspension from a game against Fernie.
And if that was not enough, Leaf center Ryan Cooper was ejected during the first period Tuesday ejected for interference while off the ice during an altercation in front of the Leafs bench.
However, with more than a half-dozen players watching from the stands, Nelson, sparked by the solid play of affiliate call-ups Keenan Crossman, and Marty and Nathan Ingram, managed to hold off the Bruins through most of the opening frame to score the only goal of the period late.
Ryan Piva jumped on a loose puck to beat Ross King in the Grand Forks nets to give the home side the early lead. The goal seconds after Nelson was able to kill a Bruins two-man advantage following a melee in front of the Leafs goal.
Piva then added some insurance in the second period, combining with Michael Bladon and Zach Morey for a power play marker in a period the Leafs owned, outshooting the Bruins 16-7.
The Leafs then rode the all-star goaltending of Josh Williams, who blocked all 20 shots for his fourth shutout of the season.
Williams, who leads all KIJHL goalies in wins with 15, lowered his goals against average to a stingy 1.83.
Nelson, 22-6-1-0-2, is now idle until returning from the Christmas break for a two-game set against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, beginning December 29 in Fruitvale.
The teams complete the series Sunday, December 31st for the annual New Year’s Day game at 2 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.
BLUELINES: The game was stopped midway through the first period due to a power outage. It took approximately 20 minutes for the power to be restored to the arena lights. Leafs coach Mario DiBella, who operates Martech Electrical in Castlegar, left the bench to offer assistance. Nelson Hydro crews were later seen in the arena looking for the reason for the outage. . . .Prior to the contest Nelson Leafs president John Dooley and team captain Sawyer Hunt presented Nelson Friends of the Family with a cheque for $1,000. The foundation was started in 2000 as a result of local families wanting to give back to the community that helped them during their own time of crisis. The Foundation's purpose quickly led to helping families with emergency financial need due to childhood illness or accidental injuries.