The Nelson Leafs lost to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks tonight 3-2, leaving them one game from playoff elimination. The Nitehawks now lead the series 3-1.
The first period ended scoreless. That didn’t change until almost halfway into the second period when Leafs defenceman Patrick Croome scored.
A second goal by the Leafs was disallowed by the referees for high sticking but less than a minute after that disappointing call, Tyler Fyfe put the puck in Beaver Valley’s net.
Less than two minutes later Beaver Valley’s Taylor Stafford scored. Things went downhill fast for the Leafs when Beaver Valley scored two more goals (by Spencer McLean and Reid Anderson) within 30 seconds of each other, with less than four minutes left in the second period.
The Leafs tried to fight back in the third but the Nitehawks proved too hungry. No more goals were scored but plenty of penalties were taken by both teams.
Leafs coach Dave McLellan said a lot went right tonight but he didn’t agree with the referee disallowing the Leafs’ second goal. McLellan wouldn’t comment further on the officiating, although he said he would love to.
“It’s a hard fought series with two really good teams,” said McLellan. “It’s entertaining for the crowds, I’m sure. They’ve been close games.”
Nelson is down six players and that has affected their performance.
“Certainly with this short bench we battled hard,” said McLellan. “Our guys are really laying it out there, trying to battle this series so far. I think we got a little unlucky. We needed to score on a few of these opportunities. We had some really quality chances that we didn’t score on. It’s unfortunate because I think we carried the play, especially late in the game.”
Then he commented on went went wrong.
“A little lapse there, we got caught with a bad line match up on the second goal, and the third goal which really hurt us. We just didn’t have enough guys to put on the ice. Our top six played as much as they could but were unlucky with the line match and the two goals there. I had to manufacture a line that was scored on the second one and the other line got scored on too.”
And it’s unlikely the Leafs will get back any of their missing players by Thursday when they face Beaver Valley in their territory for game five.
As for Leaf player standouts, McLellan said goaltender Jason Mailhoit played “really great” as did Robson Cramer, Darnell St. Pierre, and up front Rayce Miller.
Prior to tonight’s game, Robson Cramer was presented with an award as the KIJHL’s top defenceman.