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KIJHL: Leafs down Spokane Braves

Nelson beats Spokane 4-1 at home Friday evening to notch its first win of the season.
The Nelson Leafs faced off against the Spokane Braves at the Nelson & District Community Complex on Friday evening.

The Nelson Leafs took an early lead against the Spokane Braves on Friday evening when Jordan Davie blew past the American team's defense and scored with the assistance of Brendan Smith and Blair Andrews at the 12:35 mark. It was the second goal scored by the 5"11 Kaslo native, who also scored on the Fernie Ghostriders during the second game of the season, and it gave his teammates the momentum to eventually beat the Braves 4-1.

This win breaks the Leafs' two-game losing streak, and Davie told the Star it was a hard-fought battle.

"Classic third n' fourth line grinders, all in the corner and banging bodies, the puck pops out in front of the net and I'm in the right place at the right time doing the right things," said the humble forward, who formerly played for the Leafs as a 16-year-old before spending three years with the Victoria Cougars.

"Give 'em praise all you want, we shot the puck at them a lot, and we need to get that many shots every game. Whether it's 10-nothing or 1-nothing, we're going to take the win."

After Davie's initial goal, there was not another goal until the third period. And though the second period was uneventful, Davie believes their "relentless" strategy eventually wore down their southern opponents.

"They were obviously worn out and tired. We're a hard team to play against, and we're going to take that level of play to Grand Forks on Sunday."

Davie praised captain Rayce Miller, a three-year veteran who scored one of the goals in the third period, receiving the assist from teammates Ren Mason and Nicholas Ketola.

"Rayce is an unbelievable guy, on and off the ice. He had a great shot from the sidelines from an unbelievable pass, and then the other Miller, Eamonn Miller, this was his first goal so there's an obvious excitement for him. It's really about the teammates doing the right thing to get the puck to you."

Davie then teamed up with Rayce Miller to score the final goal of the game, on an empty net.

"I have very high expectations for this team," said Davie. "I think we have all the pieces we need. We have a lot to learn but with the potential that's there and the coaching we have, I think this team can go far and really do something in the playoffs. Dave's a really good coach. This is one of the tightest teams I've ever been on already, and we're only in week one, so we can only go uphill from here."

Davie said he's thrilled to be back on a Kootenay team.

"I was going into my final year of hockey, and I know what this team means to the community and its fans. I saw this coming and I wanted to hop on board. It doesn't get much better than this."

The Braves received penalties for roughing, holding, and spearing. The Leafs returned in kind, with Trent Wydrowski and Kyle Chernenkoff spending two minutes in the box each for delay of game and tripping respectively. During the chaotic third period Spokane player Paxton Malone got a four-minute penalty for high-sticking, an incident that resulted in a blood-soaked towel being left crumpled by the Leafs' locker room after the game.

The Leafs' next game will be played on Sunday, Sept. 20 at the Grand Forks Arena, where they will play their fourth game against the Grand Forks Border Bruins.