It wasn’t how the Nelson Leafs were hoping to start the 2014 Cyclone Taylor Cup tournament.
The local squad, which hasn’t played a game in more than three weeks, showed signs of rust on its way to a 6-1 loss to the Victoria Cougars.
The game was close in the first period, which saw Victoria take a 1-0 lead with five minutes to go in the opening frame, but things never seemed to get on track for the Leafs. Victoria scored five goals in the second and coasted to victory from there.
Nelson’s Troy Petrick scored the only goal for the host team, assisted by Carson Willans and Robson Cramer.
Brad Rebagliati returned to the Leafs net after being injured in the playoffs. He allowed six goals on 27 shots.
Petrick was named as the Leafs’ player of the game.
“Three weeks without a game and these guys are coming of championships, it’s hard to kind of keep up with them for the first little bit,” said Petrick. “I’m not saying that’s the reason we lost. We didn’t play a good team game altogether. We’re going to have to bounce back.”
The second periond sunk the Leafs as Victoria seemed to score at will.
“Their special teams really took over there. They were really good on their powerplay and they got a shorthanded goal and that didn’t help our team at al.l”
He said Nelson wanted to give the Cougars more of a push, but the offence just couldn’t get going.
Now the Leafs have to put the loss behind them and prepare for Friday night’s contest against their arch-rivals the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
The Nitehawks played the Aldergrove Kodiaks in the afternoon game and won 4-1.
“The team just has to rest. No matter what, we’re going to come here and play good against BV. Just the rivalry, from being division rivals and them knocking us out in game six of the playoffs, we’ll be ready,” said Petrick.
He said the game is a chance for redemption.
The Leafs and Beaver Valley play on Friday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Nelson and District Community Complex.
At 3:30 p.m. Friday, Aldergrove battles Victoria.