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Leafs feature exciting new wave of rookie talent for upcoming KIJHL season

The Nelson Leafs will feature a strong roster of new recruits, including Dawson Davis of Fort St. James. — KIJHL photo

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has an exciting new wave of rookie talent entering the 2022-23 season, which begins on September 23 at home against the Princeton Posse.

Leading up to the start of the season, the KIJHL is highlighting those players from each team.

Next in the New Wave series are the Nelson Leafs.

The Leafs finished first in the Neil Murdoch division with 31 wins in 42 games. In the playoffs, they advanced to the KIJHL Final playing for the Teck Cup against the Revelstoke Grizzlies.

Here’s a look at their new wave of rookies with insight from Head Coach Adam DiBella.

Leighton Partington — Forward, West Central Wheat Kings U18 AA

Partington put up 36 points in 28 games for the Wheat Kings and continued his strong offensive production in the playoffs with 18 points in 12 games. 

“Leighton is a fast, gritty and skilled forward who is tenacious on the forecheck. He was the captain of his U18 team last season and is a proven playoff performer.”

Hunter Sperle  — Forward, West Central Wheat Kings U18 AA 

Playing on a line with Leighton Partington, Sperle put up 45 points in 32 games for the Wheat Kings. In the playoffs, he was a threat with his shot, netting 13 goals in 12 playoff games. He was an assistant captain last season.

“Hunter is a power-forward with a lethal shot. He can find a way to be open in scoring areas.” 

Owen McFarlane — Forward, Okotoks Oilers U18 AAA 

McFarlane had five points in 37 games for the Oilers last season and is a defensively responsible centre with great positioning. 

“Owen is a dynamic skater who has an amazing work ethic both on- and off-the-ice. He has underrated skills and high potential.”

Jason Scott — Forward, OHA U18 Prep 

Scott collected 18 points in 36 games last season for OHA. 

“Jason is a big bodied power-forward with a big upside. Jason has a great work ethic and as the season progresses we are anticipating him to grow into a physical force. He has great hands around the net and can play anywhere in the lineup.”

Connor Hanna — Forward, IHA U18 Prep

Hanna collected five points in 33 games for IHA last season. 

“Connor is a strong skating, big power-forward who is very coachable. With Connor’s work ethic and coachability, we think he is going to get better in every game he plays.”

Dawson Davis — Forward, OHA U18 Prep 

Davis collected 13 points in 36 games for OHA last season and has an elite compete level. 

“He is a strong skating two-way center and will be used in all situations. He is very positionally smart and refuses to be out worked. He is a great forechecker and is excellent on the penalty kill.”

Nelson opens the exhibition season Friday, September 9 in Fruitvale against Beaver Valley Nitehawks.

Saturday, September 10, the teams return to the NDCC Arena for game two of the series.

Nelson opens the KIJHL regular season Friday, September 23 at home against the Princeton Posse. Game time is 7 p.m.