Leaf fans are hoping whatever the hockey club was eating or drinking during the month of October is secretly packed away in a secure vault to be rationed throughout the remainder of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season.
Because the past month saw the Green and White go undefeated, and race from the bottom to the top of the Murdoch Division standings.
“The secret has been confidence and buy in,” Leaf assistant coach Adam DiBella told The Nelson Daily when asked about the October turnaround.
“This team loves to learn and (players) are eager to improve,” DiBella added. “They are playing each night with discipline regarding the system that is being asked of them.”
After struggling to open the season against teams from Eddie Mountain Division, and suffering numerous overtime losses to the Okanagan Conference, the Leafs picked it up in October, going undefeated against Murdoch Division opponents — including a 3-1 decision last weekend against Beaver Valley.
“Any time you can get a win in BV’s rink is big,” said DiBella after Leafs passed the test against KIJHL heavyweight. “Their rink is so tough to play in, so any time you can walk away with two points is a good feeling.”
Of course, in sport there’s a tendency to read your own press clippings and forget about what was done to achieve the past month’s success. Which is not lost with the coaching staff.
“We will be taking a business-like approach into every game,” DiBella said. “Every game starts at 0-0 and its up to the coaching staff to prepare and the players to execute. We will have them ready to work hard for 60 minutes every night.”
Nelson starts November with a light schedule, playing only one game this weekend at home when Kamloops Storm visit the NDCC Arena for a 7 p.m. puck drop.
The Storm have been struggling to start the season, opening the first part of the Junior B campaign with a 4-10-0-01 record.
Nelson hosts Grand Forks Border Bruins Tuesday at the NDCC Arena before setting out to play road games in Spokane and Fernie the following weekend. The Border Bruins sit fourth in the Murdoch Division with a 7-6-0-0-1 record. Nelson has won both meetings this season between the two Murdoch rivals.
No player moves planned on the horizon
Two months into the season, Leafs coaching staff appears to be happy with the core group in the dressing room.
DiBella said management is happy with the group they have and doesn’t see any moves pending in the near future.
The only player managing injury is defenceman Ryan Quinn Neilsen-Webb, who DiBella said is a game-time decision and will be re-evaluated prior to puck drop.
KIJHL Three Stars
The KIJHL announced its three stars for the past week.
Kayson Gallant of Kelowna Chiefs earns first star with six goals for seven points in wins over Spokane Braves and Sicamous Eagles.
Second star is goalie Eric Scherger of Summerland, backstopping the Steam to a pair of wins.
Third star is Josh Dalquist of Creston Valley Thunder Cats.