It was a tight checking intense night at the Nelson and District Community Complex as the Nelson Leafs dropped a 4-1 decision to the visiting Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Saturday.
The two squads, along with the Castlegar Rebels are in a tight battle for first place in the Neil Murdoch Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
Most of the scoring took place in the first period as the Nitehawks took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
Mitch Foyle, Allan Pruss and Andrew Miller scored for Beaver Valley, while Robson Cramer popped in the only goal for the Leafs who were playing with a number of starters out of the line up.
““We are pretty short-manned, then, of course that looked like a very scary injury happening,” said head coach Dave McLellan.
The injury occurred in the first period when Nelson’s Blair Andrews went down in a bloody heap after he took a stick to the face.
While it looked bad when it happened, the Leafs coach said it ended up being less serious than originally thought.
“He’s fine, it looks like. It’s amazing. A couple of contusions and a pretty mangled mouth, but no loss of teeth or anything. He’s alert and it doesn’t look like he has a concussion.”
The Leafs squad has suffered several injuries in the past few games, creating a lack of manpower.
“This game was extreme. We went into it with three lines and five defenceman… it certainly hurt us,” said McLellan, adding he thought his players played hard, considering the early injury scare.
But injuries aren’t the only thing that the coach said hurt the squad.
“I didn’t think the referee helped us much either.”
The contest began to get chippy as it went along, something McLellan thought could have been controlled better.
“I thought there was a lot of stuff behind the play not called that created the chippiness. You’ve got a player running around slew footing people and tripping people off face offs. I addressed it with the referee and it wasn’t dealt with,” he said.
Overall he said the squads played a tough, intense and tight checking contest.
“Both teams played a tough neural zone game tonight. They weren’t giving up a lot of opportunities. If we could have capitalized on some of our powerplay chances… it was one of those games where we knew it was going to be tough especially with a short bench.”
He was also critical of netminder Joey Karrer.
“We didn’t get great goaltending tonight either which is kind of a disappointment.”
The loss leaves the Leafs in second place in the division, one point behind the Rebels and two ahead of the third place Nitehawks.
Nelson’s next game is on Tuesday, November 25 when they travel to Grand Forks to play the border Bruins.
Their next home game is set for Saturday November 29 when Castlegar come to town.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m.