It was fast paced, it was intense, but in the end the Nelson Leafs couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities as the locals lost their second straight game to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 3-2 on Tuesday afternoon at the Nelson and District Community Centre.
The victory gives Beaver Valley a three-point cushion ahead of the second place Leafs in the Neil Murdoch Division of the KIJHL.
Mitch Foyle got the visitors on the board first, scoring on a scramble in front of Nelson netminder Adam Maida with less than three minutes to go in the opening period.
The second period was a chippy affair with both squads spending time in and out of the penalty box. At one point it was standing room only as four Leafs were in the box for various offences.
The visitors extended their lead to 2-0 at the 14-minute mark of the second when Dallas Calvin scored on the powerplay.
Later on in the second, with the Leafs two-men short for the second time in the middle frame, Riley Brandt scored to give the Nitehawks a comfortable 3-0 lead going into the final frame.
In the third, it was Beaver Valley that ran into penalty trouble, but Nelson could not capitalize on their chances. It appeared as if the locals would get shut out at home to end 2013. However newcomer Adam Hodge got the locals on the board with just over six minutes to play in the game.
That seemed to lift the Leafs sprits as, four minutes later, Nolan Percival popped one in the net to narrow the gap to one goal.
The Leafs continued to put on the pressure and despite pulling the goaltender for the final 90 seconds, could not find the equalizer.
After the game, Leafs assistant coach Sean Dooley was complimentary of his team’s performance.
“I thought they played really well. They worked hard. Obviously we came out with a loss, but when you work that hard and you lose a game, it’s hard to fault anyone.”
Dooley said Beaver Valley has a strong team and their forwards capitalized on their scoring chances. Despite the Leafs’ efforts, they just couldn’t beat the Nitehawks netminder.
“We got all those chances and he (the opposing goalie) shut the door,” added Dooley.
The Leafs’ lineup was missing offensive threats Travis Wellman and Alec Wilkinson for the game who were out with injuries. That’s two of the squad’s top three scorers.
‘We’re a bit banged up,” admitted Dooley adding that the club has been playing with only five defencemen since mid-October.
In order to add some support to their depleted line up, the Leafs recently picked up two new players, Adam Hodge (who scored one of the goals) and Rayce Miller.
“They’ve played the last two games and they’ve been great,” said the assistant coach.
The locals don’t have time to dwell on the loss as the squad will hit the road again this weekend.
“We’ll just regroup and get ready for Kimberley on Friday he said.
The Leafs now plays four straight road games beginning Friday, January 3 against the Kimberley Dynamiters. The next day, the Leafs will be in Golden to take on the Rockets followed by a contest on Monday, January 5 in Invemere against the Columbia Valley Rockies.
The following week the Leafs travel to Castlegar to play the Rebels on January 10.
The squad’s next home game is Saturday, January 11 at the NDCC when the Spokane Braves come to town.
The puck drops at 7 p.m.