One month into the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League campaign and it's been a bad news, good news season for the Nelson Leafs Hockey Club.
The bad news is Nelson is winless in six games and sits last in the Neil Murdoch standings.
The good news, despite the poor start, Nelson is one point out of a playoff spot and only seven away from division-leading Spokane Braves.
This poor start sparked Leaf coaching staff to make some major decisions to the roster this past week — the biggest move coming between the pipes where the Leafs said goodbye to 20-year-old Nelson Minor Hockey product Curt Doyle.
Doyle, who came to the Leafs in an offseason deal with Castlegar Rebels for a player development fee, was sent to the Osoyoos Coyotes for defenceman Adam Diotte.
The 20-year-old Doyle played in all six games for Nelson, finishing with 3.19 GAA and .898 save percentage. The 5’11”, 165-pound Diotte had two points in seven games for Osoyoos.
Management filled Doyle's departure by acquiring 6’11”, 181-pound goalie Andy Violette from the Sannich Braves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League in exchange for a player development fee.
Violette, injured to begin the season, was rock solid during last year’s VIJHL playoffs as he backstopped Sannich to a surprising first round win over Kerry Park. Violette joins Carlos Siso as goalies on the Nelson roster.
Both deals were made earlier this week as the Leafs look to turn the tables on a rare, poor start to the KIJHL season.
Leafs host Grand Forks Saturday
After a steady diet of competition from outside the division, Nelson plays host to Murodch rival Grand Forks Saturday at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.
The Bruins are a slim three points ahead of Nelson in Murdoch standings with a 3-4 record.
Last year the Leafs owned Grand Forks, taking five of six games against the Bruins while outscoring the Boundary City club 27-18.
Nelson begins the weekend set of games Friday in Summerland against the Steam. The Leafs won the only meeting last season between the two teams, defeating the Bill Ohlhausen Division squad 6-2.
Wilson lone bright spot offensively for Leafs
The lone bright spot offensively for Nelson has been the play of forward Ried Wilson.
In six games, Wilson has scored four goals for eight points to sit tied for 18th spot overall in KIJHL scoring stats.
Logan MacDonald is second in Leafs scoring with six points while Bryden Pow is third with four points.