The Nelson Leafs are shaking up their line-up with a trade that brings firepower to the ice and puts a new goalie between the pipes.
With Colton McCarthy heading to the WHL and Matthew Naka breaking his ankle during off-ice time, the Leafs were looking for some scoring prowess.
Coach Frank Maida brought Connor Gross from the Grand Forks Border Bruins in a Boxing Day trade that brings the offense he was looking for. The 18-year-old import hailing from Lethbridge, Alberta debuted with the Leafs on Dec. 31.
On a hot streak with the Border Bruins, the forward has already scored two goals in two games with the Leafs.
“Connor’s doing good. He’s adjusting to our team and our pace and he’s playing well for us,” said Maida.
Leafs also sent goalie Cody Boeckman to Golden Rockets while Kamloops Storm’s Marcus Beesley landed in Nelson for future considerations.
“The opportunity came and I felt we needed to get some experience going into the play-offs,” Maida told the Star. “Markus has been in the league for three years so I felt a change was good and it was a good opportunity for Cody to go home so I think it worked out for both goaltenders.”
The 6 foot 165 lbs Beesley is 20-years-old and hails from Prince George, BC. He played with the Leafs during the 2010/2011 season before heading to Kamloops Storm.
“Beesley will be real good in the dressing room. He’s a great leader,” Maida said. “Cody was a great team player and he’ll be missed but at the same time the team understands the opportunity and they’re happy for Cody and Markus and we’re adjusting as a team.”
The Leafs won their first game in a five game road-trip Friday night in Fernie defeating the Ghostriders 6-2. Beesley made his first appearance with the team solid in net.
Sunday afternoon the Leafs take on Castlegar Rebels who are tied with Golden for second place in the league. Both teams sit four points back of the league leading Leafs.
Maida says it the perfect time to head out on the road building on strengths established this season.
“It’s good to get away and get reattached as a team. Spend some time together on the road,” he said. “We want to get back to Leafs hockey being consistent for 60 minutes in all games.”