The Nelson Maple Leafs, backstopped by goaltender Bill McDonnell, put up a fight but couldn’t make any headway against Spokane in the 1970 WIHL playoffs. This is from the Nelson Daily News of March 14, 1970.

GREG SCOTT: News from 1970: Spokane sweeps Nelson in WIHL final

In 1970, snowpack levels were low and Rosemont was being eyed for a new housing scheme

By Greg Scott

Excerpts from the files of the Nelson Daily News fifty years ago

Dateline March 13, 1970

The forest fire situation for the coming summer could be grave, as mountain snowpacks are well below average with a below-average spring runoff predicted.

The snow survey bulletin for March 1, issued by the Department of Lands, Forests and Water Resources, shows that below-average February precipitation combined with high temperatures to produce an above-average February runoff.

In the Kootenay and Columbia River basins, runoffs were average for the month of February. Snowpacks in snow courses of both basins were at a minimum or all-time lows at the end of the month. On the Kootenay River, snowpacks are well below average in both the east and west drainages.

Dateline March 19, 1970

Nelson has a problem. Expected growth in the recreation and tourist industries, along with the federal incentives plan to attract industry, could result in great expansion for the city, but where do the people go? At least a partial solution was presented at city council Monday in the form of a proposed land assembly scheme for the Rosemont area.

The report says that the Rosemont area is the only one left in the city which could offer good land for house construction. The portion of land termed most attractive for land assembly is the wooded area in Rosemont once intended as the site for Columbia College.

The Fairview area is completely built up, except for the university area, which must be kept clear for possible expansion; the View Street area would be very difficult to develop because of existing construction and the expensive costs of fitting in new utilities to meld into the existing neighborhood; the remaining fringe in the Uphill section is a stretched-out remnant abutting a railway track and possibilities for attractive development appear remote.

The plan says financing of the scheme in its initial stages could be assumed by the city, with ultimate costs then being taken over by a private developer, who would gain his profit by the sale of the lots.

Dateline March 20, 1970

The completion of a $3.3 million project to bring direct long distance dialing service to West Kootenay communities including Nelson will highlight the B.C. Telephone Company’s $1.7 million expansion program for West Kootenay during 1970. Facilities to enable Nelson and other B.C. Tel customers in the region to dial long distance calls directly are to go into service in June.

At that time, the Nelson telephone office will become the primary toll centre for the entire district, providing operator services and the switching and ticketing machinery through which direct dialing works. Other expansion of facilities in Nelson this year involves about $40,000 in cable placement throughout the exchange area to provide for connection of additional customers and improved service to others.

Dateline March 23, 1970

The 1969-70 Western International Hockey League season for the Nelson Maple Leafs ended Friday night. The Leafs, down three games in the best-of-seven league final with the Spokane Jets, were edged 2-1 at Civic Arena.

The Jets, in winning the series four straight, copped the Savage Cup and WIHL Round Table Award for the third straight year as they continued their domination of the league. The Jets will now meet the winner of the Alberta Hockey League playoff in the quarter-finals of the Allan Cup.

However, the Leafs did not go down without a fight. Only two quick goals from the Jets in the final period destroyed the Leafs’ hopes of further playoff competition. Playing before 2,400 partisan Nelson Leaf fans at Civic Arena, the locals turned on their best performance of the series and were ahead on the scoreboard after two periods of play, 1-0.

Bill McDonnell in the Nelson net, playing his first game of the final playoffs, was the reason the Leafs were ahead and not behind as he came up with 17 saves, many of them from close in. McDonnell produced some dazzling stops, sometimes sprawling flat out to pounce on a loose puck or doing the splits on another occasion.

Disaster struck in the final frame for the Leafs, as they let down after a Spokane power play marker and then were stunned seven seconds later by a second goal. With McDonnell’s brilliance in goal, coupled with a 100 per cent effort from the rest of the team, the Leafs came close to defeating the Jets and another crack at the Savage Cup.


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