Nelson Leafs Brendan Smith moments after scoring the winning goal against the North Okanagan Knights

KIJHL: North Okanagan Knights crestfallen after Nelson Leafs win 3-2

Leafs on a four game winning streak after two weekend wins at home

“It’s the best feeling in the world!” That’s how Nelson Leaf defenceman Kyle Chernenkoff described scoring in the last three minutes of the game, bringing his team to a 2-2 tie with the North Okanagan Knights today. “Everybody’s cheering, there’s no better feeling.”

The Nelson Leafs pulled themselves together in the third period to topple the Knights’ 2-0 lead, eventually winning 3-2, which is now the forth game in their winning streak.

Knights Kelsey Byrne scored in the first and Liam Molloy in the second.

Head coach Dave McLellan said things changed for the Leafs when they figured out what the Knights were doing.

“The Knights were playing collapsing defence and four man through the neutral zone for the most of the game and we weren’t really recognizing,” said McLellan. “We had to shoot the puck in and go get it,” he said, adding the Knights’ two goals were their mistakes by turning the puck over at the wrong time.

Leaf forward Jo Davie scored the first goal seven minutes into the third, spurring the second goal by Chernenkoff which brought the score to 2-2.

Jo Davie. Jitka Ostermann photo

Chernenkoff told the Star: “It’s unfortunate we started off slow but then we came together as a team. You get that first [goal], you get momentum and then everyone gets going; we’re unstoppable.”

With less than a minute on the clock, it looked like the game was going into overtime, but with 19 seconds left, Leaf Brendan Smith scored, beating the Knights 3-2.

Smith said it felt “awesome” to score the winning goal.

Moments after Brendan Smith (centre) scored the winning goal assisted by defenceman Max Daerendinger (left). Jitka Ostermann photo

“It felt really good to come out in the third as a team and get three goals in a period,” said Smith who credited his captain and assistants for a job well done.

McLellan said they really had to “dumb it down” and outwork their opponents. They out shot the Knights 34-19.

“We knew it was going to be tough game,” he said. “They were playing a fully defensive style against us, trying not to lose.”

Tamara Hynd photo

 

Leaf captain Rayce Miller was injured at the beginning of the second period when he took a puck to the face. He dropped to the ice bleeding from the mouth before leaving for the hospital for medical attention. McLellan said Miller was in the hospital with at least a couple missing teeth and a bad contusion. The coach suspects Miller will be out of the game for at least a week.

Also absent from the ice is recently acquired forward Nick Novin. With seven points from two goals and five assists in only four games ,Novin holds the highest points per game ratio on the team. An American coming from an Arizona team, McLellan explained Novin’s paper work was only good for one week and said they continue to wait for his documentation to be complete.

The Leafs remain in the middle of the Neil Murdoch division with 18 points, two behind the Castlegar Rebels and four behind the Beaver Valley Nitehawks who lead with 22 points.

The Leafs play only one game next week, as they face the Princeton Posse for the second time this season on Saturday at the Nelson and District Community Centre. The pucks drops at 7 p.m.

Tamara Hynd photo

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