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Johnson strikes twice to lead Leafs past pesky Bruins

Marcus Dahl attempts to jam the puck past Garrett Muir in the Grand Forks net during KIJHL action Wednesday at the NDCC Arena. — Bruce Fuhr photo

By Bruce Fuhr,
The Nelson Daily Sports


It’s something about third periods and the Grand Forks Border Bruins that keeps Leaf fans on the edge of their seats.

For the second straight game the Bruins staged a third-period rally, only this time falling short in a 5-4 loss to the Nelson Leafs in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action Wednesday night at the NDCC Arena.

“I wasn’t here for that game (a 6-5, December 12 loss to the Bruins) but I heard about it,” said the game’s first star, Dustin Johnson, who finished the contest with three points for the home side.

“Grand Forks, from what I saw playing them tonight, is a team that is not going to give up no matter what the score.”

“So for us heading into playoffs we’ve got to focus on not giving up those leads,” Johnson added.

It was obvious from the start most of the Nelson players still had nightmares from the pre-Christmas collapse.

The Leafs took the play to the Bruins from the opening puck drop, firing 20 some shots at the Grand Forks net.

Patrick Martens and Taylor O’Neil, on the power play, gave the Leafs a 2-0 lead after one period.

In the second Johnson struck twice with one of the markers coming with the man advantage. Joel Stewart had the other marker to increase the Nelson lead to 5-2 after 40 minutes.

However penalties, the key during the previous encounter in December, gave the momentum to Grand Forks. Cody Larsen, once on the power play, scored twice to cut the lead to 5-4.

The Bruins pressed for the equalizer but Marcus Beesley made some huge saves to keep Nelson in front.

The Leafs finished game out shooting the Bruins 51-24.

Beesley, in goal while starter Darren Hogg rests his injured leg, registered his tenth win of the season.

Next game for the Leafs is Friday, January 21 when the Kalona Chiefs pay a visit to the NDCC Arena.

LEAF NOTES: Jeremy Mandoli backed up Beesley in the Leaf nets. . . . Blake Arcuri did not play as did Gavin Currie. . . .Dustin Johnson, who broke into the KIJHL with Summerland Sting in the 2006-07 season, has a five-game points streak. . . .Darren Hogg, injured during the recent road trip in Golden, lost his chance to play in the KIJHL Prospect’s Game. Alex Ross of Castlegar will replace Hogg. However, the news is better for Riley Henderson, who gets his shot during the KIJHL All Star contest after starter Darren Tarasoff was hurt. . . .Currie’s spot on the Kootenay team is taken by Ryan Aynsley of Castlegar. . . .Leaf coach and GM Chris Shaw traded winger Connor McLaughlin to the Fernie Ghostriders. It's believed McLaughlin may not be avaliable to play again until the Riders play host to the Cyclone Taylor Cup in April.

sports@thenelsondaily.com