Nelson Leafs reclaim top spot
The Nelson Leafs find themselves in familiar territory — sitting alone atop the league standings.
The Leafs went three for three on the weekend, earning road victories on three consecutive nights.
On Sunday, the Nelson squad beat the Columbia Valley Rockies 6-4 to take a one-point lead over the second place Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the Neil Murdoch Division of the KIJHL and in the overall league standings.
“We are up on Beaver Valley now. We have a busy month ahead of us so we have to keep chipping away and keep that same hard-working mind set with the team and take it one game at a time,” said Leafs assistant coach Sean Dooley.
He said the squad is pretty happy with the results, especially after some recent disappointing outcomes.
“They are pretty happy right now, coming off the game on New Year’s where we had the loss but they played hard. They kind of carried that into this weekend — that same work ethic — and it paid off for them as we came away with six points.”
The wins are even more immpressive when you consider the Leafs personel issues.
“We still have some guys out of the line up. It was nice to see some of the other guys step up and fill those roles,” said Dooley.
Two of the Leafs top three scorers — Travis Wellman and Alec Wilkinson — as well as Bryce Nielsen are out of the line up with injuries.
The Nelson roster is so depleted that two alternate players from the major midget team had to be called up for the weekend contests.
“They played great for us. They weren’t out of place at all.”
Sunday night’s victory over the Rockies completed a three game weekend sweep for the Leafs.
Austin Lindsay opened the scoring for Nelson in the first period, followed by markers by Brandon Sookro and Jamie Vlanich to give the locals a 3-0 lead.
That lead was increased to 4-0 in the second period when Aaron Dunlap bulged the twine for the Nelson team.
The Rockies began to battle back in the second, urged on by goals from Braeden Farge and Peter Matthews to narrow the gap to 4-2.
However the Leafs Vlanich scored his second of the game to restore Nelson’s three goal lead.
Logan Kerner scored for the Rockies to make it 5-3 after two.
In the third, Columbia Valley narrowed the gap to one goal when Ryan Henderson beat Leafs netminder Brad Rebagliati, but a late goal by Linden Horswill secured the win for Nelson.