The Nelson Junior Leafs got it done the hard way Thursday night in Grand Forks.
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s top team travelled west to take on the league doormat Border Bruins in what should have been an easy two points. Instead the upstart Border Bruins gave their Neil Murdoch Division rivals a great battle.
Nelson Minor Hockey grad Colton Dawson gave Grand Forks a 1-0 lead early in the first period when he beat Kootenay Ice Major Midget call-up Adam Maida who was making his junior hockey debut between the pipes for the Leafs. With just over two minutes left in the opening frame, Chase Anchikoski gave the home side a 2-0 advantage.
Thirty seconds later, Nelson captain Colton Schell scored to cut the deficit to 2-1 heading into intermission.
Grand Forks starter Robert Dunsmuir faced 27 Nelson shots in the first 20 minutes.
Just under seven minutes into the second period, midget call-up Brandon Sookro scored to tie the game at twos.
Midway through the period Connor Gross scored on the powerplay to restore the lead for the Border Bruins. The score remained 3-2 after 40 minutes.
Facing the reality that they may lose to a team that has only notched three wins so far this season, Nelson Minor Hockey grad Matt MacDonald scored four minutes into the third to tie the score at 3-3. Thirty seconds later defenceman JJ Beitel scored what would be the eventual winner.
Matthew Naka notched a short-handed goal with a minute left in the game to add the insurance marker.
The 5-3 victory was the Leafs third in a row.
Maida faced 27 shots to earn his first junior victory. Dunsmuir faced 61 Nelson shots on the night.
The teams are back at it again tonight in Nelson. The puck drops at the Nelson and District Community Complex at 7 p.m.