The Nelson Bantam Leafs came within one goal of claiming the West Kootenay Minor Hockey League championship Sunday.
Mike Zarikoff scored in the third period to cut the Leafs’ deficit to one against Coeur d’Alene, but Nelson would get no closer in the 3-2 loss in Castlegar.
The Leafs were undefeated through three preliminary round games to earn the top seed entering the playoffs portion of the tournament, which ran Friday to Sunday.
Nelson opened with a 7-5 slug-fest victory against Grand Forks before winning 5-2 against Greater Trail No. 3. The Leafs then crushed Boundary 11-2 in the third preliminary game.
On Sunday, the Leafs cruised to a 12-1 win against Greater Trail No. 1 in the semifinal. The game turned ugly with four Greater Trail players ejected and a total of 89 penalty minutes handed out.