During playoffs, nothing comes easy.
Case in point — the first game of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Murdoch Division Semi Final between Nelson and Spokane.
Nelson enters the post season 30 points better than the Braves after the regular season. However, it was the Green and White needing a late game rally to edge the Braves 3-2 in overtime during Game one of the Murdoch Division Semi-Final Playoff Series Tuesday night at the NDCC Arena.
Captain Jack Karran scored twice, including OT winner, to pace the Leafs past the pesky Braves.
Game two of the best-of-seven series goes Wednesday back in Nelson with the series shifting to Spokane for Games three and four, Friday and Saturday.
Tuesday’s opener was a continuation of Saturday’s regular season finale at the NDCC Arena, where both teams struggled against tight checking. Reid Wilson gave the home side a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes after scoring late in the middle frame with Nelson on the power play.
However, that lead was quickly erased in the third as Bear Hughes scored twice in a three-minute span to put the visitors ahead. That’s when Captain Jack went to work, combining with Kaleb Comishin and Cole Wyatt to tie the game.
During the extra period, Nelson’s big line of Karran, Wyatt and Shawn Campbell combined to put the winner past Spokane netminder Campbell Arnold.
Nelson outshot the Braves by a slim 29-26 margin as the KIJHL's top regular season goalie Caiden Kreitz won for the first time in the playoffs. The Leafs finished one-for-two on the power play. Nelson was outstanding on the penalty kill as Spokane was zero-for-seven with the man advantage.
Banner Night for Leafs
Prior to the game, KIJHL Vice-President Andrew Carr presented Leafs with team and individual awards.
Nelson Captain Jack Karran and Leafs Vice-President Corey Viala were presented with Murdoch Regular Season Championship Banner by Carr during a pre-game ceremony at center ice.
Leaf Head Coach Mario DiBella was selected top skipper in the Murdoch Division coaches and managers in the division while Nelson goalie Caiden Kreitz won the KIJHL’s Top Goalie Award.
SERIES NOTES: Leafs presented Nelson Friends of Family with a cheque for $1,000 during pre-game ceremonies. The Nelson and Area Friends of the Family 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 KIJHL is stepping up the enforcement on the ice as the league has instituted the two-referee system for the post season. First up for the Leafs-Braves series was Ryan Blake of Nelson and Jim Maniago of Trail. . . . Defending KIJHL Champion Kimberley Dynamiters, Fernie Ghostriders, Kelowna Chiefs, Revelstoke Grizzlies, 100 Mile House Wranglers and Princeton Possse all grabbed 1-0 leads in their respective best-of-seven series on opening night of playoffs. All series resume Wednesday, including the first game of the Beaver Valley-Grand Forks series. Ice time booking delayed the first game of the Hawks-Bruins series.
KIJHL Vice-President Andrew Carr (left) presents Leafs Vice-President Corey Viala and team captain Jack Karran with the Murdoch Division Regular season banner during pre-game ceremony Tuesday night at the NDCC Arena.
Leafs skipper Mario DiBella was presented with the Murdoch Division Coach Award by Andrew Carr (left) and Leaf VP Corey Viala.
Leaf goalie Caiden Kreitz receives the KIJHL Top Netminder Award from KIJHL VP Andrew Carr Tuesday prior to the start of the Nelson-Spokane Playoff game.