By Bruce Fuhr,
The Nelson Daily Sports Editor
The Nelson Leafs will be looking to get back on the winning track when the club plays host to the Spokane Braves in a Kootenay International Junior Hockey League contest Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.
It’s the first meeting between the two clubs since Nelson ousted the Braves in seven games during last season’s KIJHL playoffs.
The two teams enter the contest looking up the standings at the two front-runners in the Neil Murdoch Division — Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Castlegar Rebels.
Expect the Braves (3-4) to be hungry for a win after Spokane lost 4-3 to Castlegar Sunday in the Lilac City. Meanwhile the Leafs (2-5) had a brief two-game winning streak snapped by the Fernie Ghostriders Saturday.
“I don’t know what Spokane has but they always have a good solid team,” said Nelson assistant coach Jason Rushton.
Rushton and fellow assistant Sean Dooley have been coaching the team while skipper Chris Shaw serves the final game of a three-game suspension. The Leaf coach and GM was suspended by the KIJHL for using “non approved — by Hockey Canada — players.
Shaw was suspended after the Leafs played ineligible players in two games, Sept.18th against Grand Forks and Sept.19th against Penticton.
“Spokane is generally a tough team at the start of the year so we just have to take the positives from this game (against Fernie), work hard and hopefully get some bounces,” Leaf veteran Gavin Currie said following Saturday’s game against the Ghostriders.
Despite the record and playing on a team of young, inexperienced skaters, Currie is pleased with the progression the Leafs has made since the start of the season.
“We’ve got some key injuries to some of the vets but you can see a lot of the D-men and forwards stepping up being huge players and just see them start to be more comfortable with their play on the ice and realize what they need to do to play at this level,” Currie explained.
Next home game for the Leafs is Saturday, October when Golden Rockets visit the NDCC Arena.
OVERTIME: Rookie Mitch Fowler leads the Braves in scoring with five goals and four assists for nine points. Rance Hughes also has five goals for Spokane. . . .Four players — Colton Schell, Connor McLaughlin, Gavin Currie and Nelson product Adrian Moyls — are tied for the lead in scoring for Nelson, each with six points. Schell leads the team in goals with five.