Leafs head coach recognized by KIJHL
Nelson Leafs Mario DiBella has been recognized by the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League as Coach of the Year in the Neil Murdoch Division.
DiBella is joined by fellow KIJHL coaches Derek Stuart (Eddie Mountain), Geoff Grimwood (Doug Birks) and Carter Rigby (Bill Ohlhausen) as winners of the award in their respective divisions.
“It’s definitely an honour,” DiBella said on the KI website.
“There are a lot of good coaches in our division and to be thought of that highly, to be named Coach of the Year is both a pleasant surprise and a humbling experience.”
DiBella, Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel of the Heritage City Junior Hockey club, is now a two-time Coach of the Year winner.
The Nelson native recently announced he will retire following the season.
DiBella said he has been impressed with the Leafs this season.
Despite having no players in the top-15 in points in KIJHL scoring, the Leafs have the second highest offence in the league.
“That says a lot to the kind of team that we have assembled,” said DiBella.
“For me, there is personal gratification in seeing that kind of a selfless team and the kind of players that we have playing for us.”
“DiBella said the past few years have been a great experience coaching alongside son Adam.
“Trying to mentor him along to take over the role of Head Coach and General Manager is something that I’ve worked towards,” DiBella said.
Seeing that come to fruition is a very rewarding conclusion for me.”
Following two weekend losses to Castlegar Rebels in the Neil Murdoch Semi Final, the Leafs face elimination Monday when the teams hook up at the NDCC Arena.
Timely scoring and outstanding goaltending by Castlegar native Ethan Lawczynski have powered the Rebels to a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Castlegar followed up a 4-2 victory Friday with a 3-1 decision Saturday against the division-winning Leafs.
Game time Monday in Nelson is 7 p.m.