The Nelson Leafs fell behind early in a 5-3 loss to the Kimberley Dynamiters on Friday. Photo: Tyler Harper

The Nelson Leafs fell behind early in a 5-3 loss to the Kimberley Dynamiters on Friday. Photo: Tyler Harper

Early goals, late penalties cost Nelson Leafs in loss to Kimberley

The Leafs fell 5-3 to the Dynamiters at home Friday

Everything could have been different if Rhett Hamilton scored at a critical moment Friday night.

The Nelson Leafs were trailing 4-3 in the third period when Hamilton was sprung on a breakaway. If he scores, the Leafs tie the game and maybe even go on to beat the Kimberley Dynamiters.

But Hamilton’s speed was matched by Kimberley goaltender Trystan Self, who came out of his crease to make the save. Hamilton looked like he might knock the rebound out of the air but his stick, and body, went sailing past the net.

After that, the Leafs fell apart with several penalties and went on to lose 5-3. Hamilton, who had already scored in the first period, was left to fume about the missed opportunity.

“If I score there it would have been a turning point in the game,” he said. “It could have taken us to OT and I think we have really skilled guys to play [3-on-3] in overtime. We need to bury more of our chances, even in the first we had quit a few open nets that we could have gotten to win the game.”

Bennett Anklewich and Joe Davidson also scored and Bryce Sookro had three assists for the Leafs (9-7-1), who lost for the third straight game. Goaltender Dylan Marshall stopped 24 shots after Tenzin Mint was pulled early in the first period.

Cash Regan scored a hat trick, with Austin Daniels and Conner Furukawa adding singles for the Dynamiters (11-4-2). Self finished with 28 saves.

After the missed breakaway, Nelson’s chance to make a comeback effectively ended with just over six minutes left in regulation.

Leafs forward Bryden Pow was handed a five-minute major for a slash on a Kimberley player that left him down on the ice and the visiting bench in an uproar. Pow was tossed from the game, and Nelson was forced to play out critical minutes of the third on a penalty kill.

Nelson head coach Mario DiBella said he didn’t see Pow’s slash but understood why it was given five minutes.

“The linesman came up to me after the game and said there was a similar play in Beaver Valley where another senior official made that same call and [the linesman] felt obligated,” said DiBella. “I respect that official. He made the right call.”

Injuries and suspensions forced the Leafs to start just five defencemen and one affiliate player. That disadvantage was obvious as soon as the puck dropped.

It was less than two minutes into the first period when the Dynamiters capitalized on a giveaway to take an early lead. A turnover from Nelson’s Lane Goodwin in his own zone led to Regan whipping a shot that beat Mint.

Kimberley wasn’t done. The Dynamiters were on a power play when Daniels found an open lane and fired a goal top corner on Mint, who appeared out of position. That forced the Leafs coaches to pull Mint after he gave up two goals on only four shots.

“I thought that we got off to a slow start,” said DiBella. “I didn’t like the first two goals that went in on our goaltender. I thought that we rebounded well from that.”

It’s true. The Leafs could have waved the white flag, but four minutes later a power-play goal put them back in the game. Nelson set up well after a faceoff and Hamilton had all the time he needed to fire a shot past Self.

Hamilton said Nelson was unfazed by the quick two-goal deficit. “We all know we can do that too. We all know that we can, we just need to execute it.”

Marshall ended the period with a three sweet saves, including one sequence where he used his stick to deflect a shot and then stretched out to stop a rebound shot with his toe.

Marshall hadn’t played a game since Nov. 6 with a lower-body injury, and said it was easier going into the game early than having to do it late.

“It’s definitely a different thing when you take the last shots in warmup then next minute you’re being placed in a game and trying the best to win the game.”

Kimberley used another early goal in the second period to kill off the Leafs’ momentum. Nelson was pressing when a Dynamiters’ counterattack ended with Marshall on the ice and Furukawa taking advantage of an open net for a 3-1 lead.

Nelson clawed back on its power play. A point shot from Sookro bounced off Self’s pads to Anklewich, who scored on the rebound to cut the deficit by one.

Kimberley restored its two-goal lead in the dying seconds of a long power play. Nelson had nearly killed off a 5-on-3 when a slick cross-ice from Dynamiters forward Kade Leskosky found Regan for his second of the game.

Another Sookro point shot led to a Leafs’ goal late in the second. Nelson was on the power play when Sookro’s shot was tipped in by Davidson, trimming Kimberley’s lead to 4-3.

After Hamilton’s failed breakaway in the third, Pow’s five-minute slash was the first of three penalties to the Leafs in the final seven minutes of the game.

A cross-checking penalty on Sookro gave Kimberley nearly two full minutes with a 5-on-3, and then was followed by another cross-check penalty to Nelson defenceman Jaxon Morvek.

Kimberley added one more goal with 1:34 left in regulation. Regan’s wrist shot bounced off Marshall’s shoulder, into the net and sent fans to the doors early.

Leaflets: Nelson is home again Saturday to the Castlegar Rebels before hosting the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Tuesday. … The second period ended with a minute left on the clock when the glass was shattered behind Kimberley’s net. After the intermission, the third period had an extra 1:04 tacked onto the clock. … Nelson’s Tyson Hutt, 15, made his KIJHL debut with the Leafs.

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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