If you didn’t know the regular season wasn’t over, you would have thought it was a playoff game.
The first-place Nelson Leafs played host to the second-place Beaver Valley Nitehawks and skated away with a 6-2 victory before one of the largest crowds of the season at the Nelson and District Community Complex.
The game had everything, high intensity, hard hits and plenty of scoring.
The Leafs got off to a fast start, taking a 3-1 lead in the first thanks to goals by Kyle Clayton, Jamie Vlanich and Carson Willans.
It was a lead the Leafs would never relinquish.
Willans and Vlanich both scored again in the second period and Alec Wilkinson added a marker in the third to round out the Leafs’ scoring.
After the game, Leafs netmider Brad Rebagliati, who stopped 13 of the 15 shots he faced, said games against the Nitehawks are always intense.
‘We’re kind of rivals and we play a hard game, as you can tell by all the penalties out there,” said Rebagliati.
In all there were 25 penalties on the night including two 10-minute misconducts, both to the Nitehawks.
“It was a very physical game. Their a big team and they bring the body, so we have to match them.”
Despite scoring six goals, in the end, Nelson won the game with defence.
“I thought defensively, our forwards and our defence, we really came together and shut them down. When you shut them down defensively, things come together offensively,” said theLeafs goalie.
The Leafs and Beaver Valley play again tomorow night (February 8), this time at the Nitehawks rink. Rebagliati said winning the opener of the back-to-back series was huge.
“It was very important to win the first one, especially at home. Last couple of games, we’ve struggled in their rink so we definitey have to come out flying and we have to expect them to be a different team in their barn.”
The victory gives the Leafs a six-point lead over Beaver Valley for top spot in the Neil Murdoch division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Beaver Valley does have two games in hand.