The Nelson Leafs snapped a two game losing streak by handing the visiting Spokane Braves a 5-1 loss on Saturday night at the Nelson and District Community Complex (NDCC).
After Spokane scored the first goal of the game, the Leafs took over, scoring five in a row to earn the win.
The victory leaves Nelson five points behind the Beaver Valley Nitehawks for first place in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Neil Murdoch Division. The Leafs are tied for second place with the Castlegar Rebels, but the Leafs have two games in hand.
Sean Collins opened the scoring for Spokane in the first period of Saturday night’s game.
In the second, Nelson’s offence began to dominate. Sam Weber, Rayce Miller and Matt MacDonald all scored in the middle frame to put the Leafs up for good.
In the third, Timothy Nichols and Miller scored to make the final 5-1. The high scoring game came as a bit of a relief as Nelson has struggled to put the puck in the net in the past week.
Joey Karrer picked up the win for the Leafs, stopping 37 of 38 shots. Jon Manlow took the loss, stopping 41 of 46 shots.
After the game, Miller said a few tweaks to the game plan made a big difference.
“We switched up our forecheck and how we go to the net. We’re sending more traffic to the net , trying to get more shots. Just greasy goals and we got some tonight,” said Miller.
The Leafs have struggled with injury problems all season long and many players have had more ice time than normal to compensate. Miller said the squad is battling through it.
“We just have to look forward to the future. Every game is a new opportunity to prove what we can do with the line up we have.”
Nelson takes on the Braves again on Sunday, this time the game is in Spokane. Despite the quick turn around, Miller said the players know what to do.
“Same thing, we have to play the body, throw pucks at the net and play tough, like we’ve been doing,” he said.
Head coach Dave McLellan said the offence was back on track.
“We were putting pucks in the right area tonight.
“We changed up our offensive tactic. We were running a hard two, three to the net and it paid off tonight. Our powerplay, we reworked that this week and I was really happy with it. The one goal we scored was really textbook,” said the coach.
January 10 is the trading deadline for the KIJHL and although McLellan said he wanted to make some deals in order to address his player shortage, as of 10 p.m., no deals had been done.
“I’ve got a couple of deals out there, we are really hopeful,” said the coach.