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Leafs remain hot in KIJHL, knock off defending champs Kimberley

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
January 13th, 2019

Okay, how do you want to play this thing out?

Tight checking combined with nail-the-barn-door-closed-defence — Leafs have it covered.

Pond-hockey style play with lots of offence — the Green and White are all over that too.

Nelson continued its recent torrid Kootenay International Junior Hockey League winning streak by capturing two victories during the weekend under different circumstances to open a 13-point lead over Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the Murdoch Division.

The Leafs rode the stellar netminder of arguably the best backstopper in the league Friday, Caiden Kreitz, to edge defending KIJHL Champion Kimberley Dynamiters 2-1 at the NDCC Arena.

Saturday, it was the former Castlegar-connection of Shawn Campbell and Reid Wilson that paved the way for Nelson to outlast Grand Forks Border Bruins 7-5 on home ice.

Nelson, 26-9-1-1, now holds a wide margin over second-place Nitehawks in Murdoch Standings.

Kreitz turns in Allstar Performance

Against Kimberley, Nelson’s bend-but-don’t-break defence, led by the KIJHL’s top goalie, frustrated the Nitros for most of the game before defenceman Michael LeNoury netted the winning goal in overtime.

Brock Palmer’s first-period goal, coming off a deflection that surprised Kreitz, staked the Dynamiters to the 1-0 lead. The goal appeared to be all Kimberley would need to pull out the road victory.

However, Cole Wyatt scored on the power play to tie the game before LeNoury converted the OT winner.

Kreitz, sporting an incredible 13-1-0-2 record with a 1.53 GAA, was the difference as Nelson was forced to kill off 12 power plays by the Nitros, including a two-man advantage in the second period when Easton Jolie was whistled for a five-minute major for tripping followed by a LeNoury high-sticking infraction.

Nelson had five power play opportunities during the game. The victory was the first in three attempts for Nelson over Kootenay Conference rival Kimberley. 

Former Rebels Pay Offensive Dividends

Ex-Castlegar players Shawn Campbell and Reid Wilson combined for five goals to lift the Leafs past the pesky Border Bruins. Nelson trailed 4-3 after 40 minutes before outscoring the Bruins 4-1 in the third to grab the two points.

Campbell led the Leafs with three goals with singles going to Emery Neilson and Keenan Crossman. Tyler Nypower finished the game with three points while Jack Karran, Wilson and Crossman each had two points.

Nathan Cohen-Wallis and Rilee Poffenroth each scored twice to lead the third-place Bruins. Yoan Rodrigue added a single while Poffenroth finished the game with three points. Jake Huculak, Zane Avery and Rodrigue all had two points.

Nelson outshot the Bruins 40-27 making a winner out of goalie Hunter Young. Ross King took the loss in goal for Grand Forks. Nelson finished the game going zero-for-four on the power play while the Bruins special team was clicking, going 3-for-7.

Back on the Road

Nelson takes to the road for three games against Grand Forks, Beaver Valley and Fernie Ghostriders before hosting Golden Rockets Sunday, January 27 at the NDCC Arena. The game has a 4 p.m. start time.

League Notes

All four KIJHL division leaders, Kimberley, Nelson Revelstoke and Kelowna, have clinched berths in the playoffs. . . .Nelson remains the hottest team in the KIJHL, winners of seven straight games. The last time Nelson lost was December 15 in Creston against the Thunder Cats. . . . Nelson fans saw newly signed defenceman Andrew Gates in the lineup. Gates came to Nelson after playing with Chicago Cougars of the US Premier Hockey League.

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