A four game losing streak is not what the Nelson Junior Leafs were hoping for under their tree, but after a 4-3 Sunday afternoon loss to Beaver Valley coach Frank Maida was upbeat.
“Before Sunday’s game we talked about our effort, the score was not the most important thing,” Maida told the Star. “We wanted 60 minutes and I think we got it. We didn’t get many breaks and a few things didn’t go our way, but we feel good about the effort. Either team could have won that game and unfortunately it wasn’t us… we’re saving those victories for down the road.”
Playing their third consecutive key Neil Murdoch Division game, the locals travelled to Fruitvale to take on the red hot Nitehawks. Coming off a 4-3 home loss to the same Nitehawks Friday night (see story below) and a 6-4 loss to the Castlegar Rebels Saturday, the Leafs were hoping to find some light during the festive season.
Forty seconds into Sunday afternoon’s contest, Beaver Valley’s Craig Martin played Scrooge when he scored on Leafs rookie goaltender Patrick Defoe. The Leafs quickly bounced back two minutes later when Linden Horswill tied the score. Midway through the first period Dallon Stoddart gave the Leafs the lead, but Martin’s second goal of the period with six minutes left had the teams tied after the first 20 minutes.
In the second period Leafs forward Max Mois gave the Leafs the lead back five minutes in. But two Nitehawks powerplay goals in the second half of the period gave the home side the 4-3 edge.
In a back and forth third period the Leafs were not able to register the equalizer and dropped their fourth straight contest.
For the third game in a row the Leafs were outshot. Defoe stopped 29 of 33 shots and earned second star of the game honours.
“I think we played two very good teams and it was a good learning experience for the boys,” Maida said of the weekend. “We learned that we need to be consistent to compete with these teams and play a full 60 minutes.”
The Leafs now head into a holiday break. They return to action with a home-and-home against the Spokane Braves on December 30 and 31.The Leafs host the Braves on New Years Eve with game time at the NDCC set for 2 p.m.