The Nelson Leafs lost their first game of the young season, dropping a 5-4 overtime decision to the visiting Kamloops Storm.
Saturday night’s contest was an up and down battle. Nelson took the lead 1-0 in the first period when Patrick Croome put the puck past Kamloops goaltender Bailey De Palma.
In the second, Kamloops stormed back. Addison Bazian and Ryan Keis scored to give the Storm a 2-1 lead.
It looked as though the Storm would increase that lead when they went on the powerplay, but Nelson’s Nolan Percival scored a shorthanded goal to tie the game at two.
What should have been a turn in momentum backfired as Kamloops scored two goals in the final 68 seconds of the middle frame to take a 4-2 lead.
At the beginning of the third, the momentum shifted again as Nelson got goals from Robson Cramer and Croome to tie the game at 4-4.
Despite constant offensive pressure, the Leafs could not score again and the game went into overtime.
During the overtime, the Leafs kept the pressure on, not allowing the Storm to get out of their own end.
But with less than two minutes to go, Kamloops broke out of their zone and forward Addison Bazian took a soft shot which eluded Leafs’ goaltender Adam Maida and went into the net to end the game.
“It’s probably one that Adam would like to have back, said coach David McLellan after the loss. “It hit him in the glove. It happens. It’s unfortunate, he’s better than that.”
While disappointed in the loss, McLellan said there were plenty of positives in the game.
“We got a point. We battled our way back after going down two goals late in the second. It’s a learning thing. We have to give credit to Kamloops, they are a good team. They played hard. They probably played harder than we did.”
While the Leafs’ work ethic was strong at times, lapses in judgment cost the local squad, especially with the two late goals in the second.
“Two guys lost their assignments on the draw and didn’t tie up their man and our defence wasn’t strong enough we the guy going to the net either… just mistakes early in the year.”
But a few adjustments in between the second and third period brought the Leafs back into the game.
Unfortunately it wasn’t enough.
The loss comes one night after the Leafs pounded the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 8-0 on the road.
“It’s always a coach’s nightmare when you come off an eight buzz win. You usually get some sort of letdown,” said McLellan.
The Leafs take to the Nelson and District Community Complex ice again on Tuesday, September 23 when the Grand Forks Border Bruins come to town.
The puck drops at 7 p.m.
Assistant coach Sean Dooley has returned to the Leafs’ fold. Dooley, who originally decided not to coach this year, has changed his mind and rejoined the club.