With playoff spots already locked in and an out-of-division team on the agenda, the Nelson Juniors Leafs’ final series of the regular season was as low-stakes as it gets.
And as the team faced off against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats at the Nelson and District Community Complex, it seemed like they knew it. The Leafs split their final weekend, picking up a 4-3 away win against the Cats only to lose to them 5-4 on home ice.
Saturday night’s game started off slow for the Leafs, with Creston getting on the board during what should have been a prime power play opportunity.
The Cats followed up the shorthanded goal with another marker four minutes later, before Gavin Currie—back on home ice for the first time in five weeks, after an injury—found the net during the Leafs’ second power play of the night.
The second period brought more pain for the team, as Creston picked up two more goals in the first six minutes of play, punching through the Leafs’ defensive line.
Halfway through, Dustin Johnson slid around the Cats’ net to pick up a rebound from Joel Stewart, giving the Leafs a second marker on the board.
But former Leaf Brennan Foreman answered back minutes later, picking up the team’s fifth goal in 31 minutes of play and causing Leafs head coach Chris Shaw to send in backup goalie Nick Broessler.
Though the two games had different outcomes, Currie says both nights were tough for the Leafs’ regular goalie Marcus Beesley.
“(Friday) night Beesley had to make some incredible saves that tonight just weren’t there. The backdoors and the ones you’re not supposed to make,” he told the Star following the game.
“I think it’s just reminding us we can’t let up and take it for granted he’s going to make those saves on an every game basis.”
With Broessler in the net, Creston’s scoring chances came to an end. Two minutes later, Leaf Marcus Dahl carved his way through Creston players to put the puck in the net and the team ended the period two points back.
But a third period rally was not to be. Though Colton Schell managed one last goal for the team with 75 seconds to play, and a last minute Creston penalty gave the team the opportunity for a two-man advantage, the Leafs couldn’t find one more shot good enough to take them into overtime.
“Our start wasn’t too well,” says Currie. “Once we pulled Beesley out of the, net we had a good start after that… all in all, I think we just had a bad start.”