Although the Nelson Leafs lost to Beaver Valley Nitehawks 7-3 on Friday night, they did not receive as much as a trouncing from their guests as the score may suggest.
The Nitehawks brought on their ‘A’ game with three goals in the first period. In the second, the Leafs failed to capitalize on their many attempts to sink the puck into their opponent’s net. Fumbled attempts by the Leafs’ defence to get the puck out from the front of their net broke down as Beaver Valley scored their forth and fifth goals of the night, bringing it to 5-0 at the end of the second.
Nelson Leafs face-off the Beaver Valley Nitehawks at the Nelson and District Community Centre. Tamara Hynd photo
A break away by Leafs’ forward Austin Lindsay got the crowds hopes up but didn’t hit the mark, but his showing still impressed head coach Dave McLellan.
Moments before the Leafs score their first goal of the night. Tamara Hynd photo
At the start of the third, the Leafs came out charging. Within minutes Leafs rookie defenceman Maximilan Daerendinger scored the first goal of the game, which was also his first of the season.
“It got me fired up and the boys happy,” said Daerendinger, a 17-year-old Vancouverite who likes the change of living in the small Nelson community.
“We went into this game expecting them to play strong and they brought their A game… but we came out with a mission in the third for three goals and we did that,” said Daerendinger.
Thanks to Leafs’ defenceman Maximilan Daerendinger, the Nelson team gets the puck in the Nitehawks net for the first of three goals. Tamara Hynd photo
McLellan was pleased with the team’s showing in the final period as well.
“We looked like the team we could be,” he said, adding the Leafs outplayed and out shot their adversary in the third. The Leafs out shot the Nitehawks 35-34 suggesting Beaver Valley goalie Brandon Wells served his team well. But McLellan was upfront about the fact that the Beaver Valley has seven rookies and the Leafs have 14.
Another Leafs’ rookie defenceman Kyle Chernenkoff (Salmo) made a surprise second goal when he fired the puck in the Nitehawks net unassisted, just in from the blue line. Forward veteran Brendan Smith scored the Leafs third and final goal of the night.
Forward Brendan Smith. Tamara Hynd photo
In an effort to gain two goals for a tie, the Leafs pulled goalie Joseph Barton, which resulted in Beaver Valley scoring two empty netters. McLellan and assistant coach Greg Andrusak called it a learning experience for their rookie heavy team.
“They need to learn to have their defence on the centreman on a face off,” said McLellan.
Absent from the ice but cheering from the bleachers was Leafs’ captain Rayce Miller as he serves a two game suspension delved out for misconduct in last weekend’s game against Princeton.
The Leafs travel to Spokane, Washington to play the against the Braves on Sunday.
“They’re a tough home team to play,” said McLellan. “Anything can happen.”