Nelson is so many things to so many people, but like every other community across this land hockey is a major thread in our fabric.
On Friday night in Castlegar, the Nelson Junior Leafs begin their playoff march in hopes of capturing a Kootenay International Junior Hockey League championship. On Monday and Tuesday they return to the Nelson and District Community Complex for games three and four. You should be there to cheer them on.
Like so many endeavours in our community, what you see on the surface of the ice is just a small part of the Nelson Junior Leafs story. When the players hit the ice for your entertainment pleasure, it’s a product of many hours of hard work behind the scenes.
The non-profit society that runs the Leafs can boast of one of the healthiest bottom lines in the league. Thanks in large part to the Nelson Leafs bottle depot and recycling centre, the organization has a steady stream of income coming in regardless of what happens on the ice. But making that facility work and all the other foundation tasks of running a hockey team takes a tremendous amount of hard work and it’s all done by volunteers.
Then there’s the coaching staff. Frank Maida and his crew have worked diligently since the summer to get the team to where they are at this point. They’ve spent countless hours preparing practice, running drills, travelling on the road and mentoring these young athletes behind the bench. It’s all in an effort to provide their players with the best opportunities beyond this season in pursuit of their hockey dreams. Winning today is important, but not as crucial as what lies ahead for these players.
In the end it’s the players skills and hard work we come to see. They have sacrificed much to get to this point in the season. Now they make one final push to become champions.
There are many reasons to cheer on the Nelson Leafs in the coming weeks. Whether you are a die hard or a casual fan, now is the time to come together and rally behind the home team.