Leafs double Bruins to advance to Murdoch Final
It was obvious the Nelson Leafs weren’t quite ready to dust of the golf clubs.
The Green and White rode the break-out performance of Justin Podgorenko to double the Grand Forks Border Bruins 4-2 in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Playoff action Saturday night at the NDCC Arena.
Nelson now meets the winner of the Beaver Valley-Castlegar series in the Murdoch Final beginning Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Heritage City.
That series, tied 3-3, will be decided Sunday afternoon in Castlegar with Game seven.
While the Leafs were able to pump 40 shots at Bruins netminder Ross King, including 31 through 40 minutes, it was Grand Forks sending a chill through the home side by twice opening one-goal leads.
Riley Smoler, who scored in six of the seven games during the series, lifted Grand Forks to the early 1-0 lead with a power play goal 12 minutes into the game.
Podgorenko tied the game with a shorthanded tally six minutes into the second.
However, Trey Mason, the leading scorer for Grand Forks during the regular season, regained the lead for the visitors, beating Josh Williams in the Nelson nets less than a minute later.
Grand Forks held the lead until the Leafs finally were rewarded for their strong play.
Michael LeNourey tied the game on the power play late in the period before Podgorenko scored the winning goal, unassisted, less than a minute later.
Nicholas Wihak gave Nelson some breathing room with an insurance goal in the third, allowing the Green and White to end the scare created by the Bruins three-game win streak to even the series.
Nelson finished the game out shooting the Bruins 40-17.
ICE CHIPS: Michael LeNourey and Leaf Game Star Justin Podgorenko each finished the game with two points for Nelson. . . . Trey Mason, Game Star for Grand Forks, and Nathan Cohen-Wallis each had two points for the Bruins. . . . . Nelson hosts the first two games of the Murdoch Final beginning Tuesday. Game two is scheduled for Wednesday with the series shifting to either Castlegar or Fruitvale Friday and Saturday. . . . Saturday’s game attracted 731 fans.