Lincoln Rosenblood (#10) of the Nelson Leafs Midget Rep squad tries to get past to Spokane defenders during the Leafs 10-0 loss on Saturday.

Midgets struggle at hockey tournament

The host Nelson Leafs midget squad show some promise, but lose all four games on the weekend.

The host Nelson Leafs midget rep hockey squad was a little too hospitable on the weekend.

The local squad finished the Nelson Midget Rep Hockey Tournament winless, losing all four games in the five-team event.

Coach Chuck Brind’Amour chalked up the event to experience for his young squad, which still has a long season of play ahead of it.

“We have eight players who have not played rep before so it’s challenging for us. There’s a lot of learning to do, both on and off the ice,” said Brind’Amour.

The squad, made up of players age 15-17, opened the tournament on Friday, dropping a close 3-2 decision to Castlegar.

Brind’Amour called it his team’s best performance of the weekend.

“We held a two to zip lead until midway through the game… Castlegar is certainly a good team and there’s a lot of history between those two teams, because they are so close.”

The Leafs then lost the next three contests — 4-1 to Merritt, 10-0 to Spokane and 9-2 to eventual tournament champs Elk Valley — scoring only five total goals.

Despite the winless weekend, Brind’Amour said there were several bright spots for the Leafs.

He pointed to the play of goaltender Ben Kelsch as one of the highlights.

“It’s his first year of midget rep and he played a lot of games for us this weekend. He saw a lot of pucks and stayed very positive.”

Another positive was defencman Keaton Roch who popped in two of Nelson’s goals.

“He played forward in the past but this year he started as a defenceman. He has really come together and been a strong player for us.”

Up front there were several solid players who “always try their best,” especially captain Zack Friedenberger.

“He shows up for every game and plays to the best of his abilities.”

Danny Marsden was also strong, scoring the other three Nelson goals.

“He’s not normally a goal scorer, but for some reason he ended up scoring more than his share.”

As the season progresses, Brind’Amour said he and the coaching staff have work to do to help the players improve.

“We want to look at improving our skills on and off the ice. We want these hockey players to become good people who get involved in the community.”

As for the tournament itself, Brind’Amour called the event a success.

“It’s been exciting to have four teams come over to Nelson and give us the opportunity to showcase our town.”

He said a lot of business, like hotels and restaurants, benefit from hosting the event.

q In the tourney final, Elk Valley edged Castlegar 5-3 to take the title. Elk Valley held a 5-2 lead at the midway point of the second period and it looked as if they were going to nurse the lead the rest of the way. Despite several chances, Castlegar could not close the gap until they scored with about six minutes to go in the third.

Elk Valley then tightened its defence and killed off the rest of the game.