Nelson Leafs forward Jaden Shumilak takes a shot during Saturday’s game against Kamloops. Photo: Tyler Harper

UPDATED: Leafs game ends with accusation of racist taunts

Nelson’s coach said a Kamloops Storm player used insensitive language

A Nelson coach accused a visiting player of racially taunting one of the Leafs during a game Saturday.

After the Leafs’ 4-2 win over the Kamloops Storm, assistant coach Adam DiBella was furious with what he said had been insensitive remarks toward a player throughout the game.

“Sometimes winning a game is more than just two points,” said DiBella.

“When there is awful, racial language being directed toward our bench from their players … it just makes you want to get the win even more. Quite honestly, there’s not a lot of place, not even in the game but in society, for anything like that.”

DiBella declined to name the players involved. He said he complained to the officiating crew during the game, but nothing came of it.

“I don’t blame the refs one bit,” he said. “They told me they’d look out for it, but they can’t make a call they didn’t hear.”

Storm head coach Steve Gainey said he heard nothing from the officials and thought there may have been a misunderstanding.

“One of the things that came out was he said, ‘We’re back, baby’ and the kid took it as ‘We black, baby.’ So I think there’s a place where the kid might be a little sensitive and maybe had it happen in the past, which is understandable,” said Gainey.

“We looked at it on the bench right away as soon as it came up, because it is obviously something that we would take really seriously within our own organization. So that was the response we got and it was kind of the end of it on our end. … Nobody in our group, when I challenged the situation, said anything like that came out.”

Both DiBella and Gainey were tossed from the game late in the third period.

The next day, Gainey told Kamloops This Week that Leafs players surrounded the Storm’s bus with five cars after the game.

“There was just a lot of continued emotion carried forward from the game from them, in their excitement to win and our frustration in the loss, having gone through a real emotional game on the ice with the amount of drama that we’re talking about,” he said. “For it to carry off the ice was a challenging thing for our boys to deal with.”

Leafs head coach Mario DiBella told the Star his players did not surround the Storm’s bus and Gainey was not telling the truth.

“That’s a poor excuse for bad conduct by their coaching staff,” said DiBella.

Cole Wyatt scored twice, Shawn Campbell and Reid Wilson had singles and Anderson Violette made 18 saves for the Leafs (11-2-3), who won their 11th straight game.

Chris Thon scored twice for the Storm (4-12-1), who lost for the seventh consecutive contest. Goaltender Ethan Paulin-Hatch stopped 22 shots for Kamloops.

The game was slow to start, and could best be summed up by a Storm goal that momentarily woke up the crowd before it was waved off for high sticking.

Leave it to Nelson’s hottest scorer then to inject some energy into the game. Campbell was passed the puck inside the face-off circle, and he wired a wrist shot past Paulin-Hatch for the 1-0 lead with five minutes left in the first period. Campbell now has 12 goals and three assists in eight games.

Two minutes later Wyatt carried the puck through defenders into the slot where it appeared he fired a shot that deflected off another player and in to double the lead.

“I saw some room in the middle of the ice and I must have went through three of their guys and just took a shot far side and picked a good corner,” said Wyatt.

There was one minute left before the break when the Storm took a pair of penalties that gave Nelson a long 5-on-3.

That power play extended into the second period and was eventually killed off, but Nelson went up 3-0 on another two-man advantage deep into the period on Wyatt’s second goal of the night.

“Cole was outstanding,” said DiBella. “Once we saw a couple of really hard shifts and then Cole score, I think that brought the bench up a bit and created more life in the arena and on the bench as well between the players.”

Violette denied the Storm an open look at their first goal with a minute left. Kamloops used a rush and an odd bounce for what might have been a goal had Violette done the splits to slide across his crease for the save.

In the third, Kamloops showed spirit in the defensive zone during a penalty kill. Storm forward Josh Bishop earned a post-game ice bath by blocking not one but two hard shots during the same shift from Nelson’s big defenceman Kaleb Comishin.

Moments later it appeared David Sanchez scored for Nelson, but the referee waved off a goal for the second time of the night.

Kamloops finally got on the board during an odd-man rush. Therann Kincross passed to Thon for the open net, cutting Nelson’s lead to two.

The Storm soon had their own 5-on-3, and it was Thon again with a goal to make it a game.

At least, that’s what it seemed like at the time. Kamloops pulled Paulin-Hatch with one minute left, but all that did was give Wilson an empty net to score with 24 seconds left to finish off the Storm.

Wyatt said the Leafs are at their best when they don’t take unnecessary penalties.

“When we do stay out of the box I don’t think there’s a team in this league that can play with us 5-on-5,” he said. “Our streak shows it. When we’re all doing the little things right and winning races and playing a full 60 I don’t think there’s a team in this league that can beat us.”

Leaflets: Nelson played the Grand Forks Border Bruins on Tuesday after the Star’s publishing deadline. Visit nelsonstar.com for the result of that game. … The Leafs have released G Austin Madge (personal). … Nelson next visits the Spokane Braves on Friday.

— With files from Kamloops This Week reporter Marty Hastings



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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