The Nelson Leafs padded their stats in Saturday’s 7-1 win over the Kelowna Chiefs. Photo: Tyler Harper

The Nelson Leafs padded their stats in Saturday’s 7-1 win over the Kelowna Chiefs. Photo: Tyler Harper

Magis scores hat trick as Leafs rout Chiefs 7-1

Nelson is on a seven-game winning streak

If you want to understand how the Nelson Leafs have become the hottest team in the KIJHL, start paying attention to their rookies.

Forward Tristan Magis started his debut KIJHL season without a point in his first seven games. On Saturday he scored a hat trick in a 7-1 blowout victory against the league-worst Kelowna Chiefs.

Magis now has five goals in the last two games and is on a six-point streak. His recent success, he says, is just one example of a team that has suddenly caught fire up and down the roster.

“Every line that jumps over the boards can really bring it,” said Magis. “Everybody on every line has an offensive skill touch so it’s good.”

The Leafs, who with the win took over first place in the Neil Murdoch Division, padded their stats against the Chiefs.

Seamus Boyd, Ryan Quast and rookies Tyler Seminoff and Leighton Partington added singles for the Leafs (14-3-3), with Frederick Larochelle making 14 saves. Lucas Byrne, also in his first season, chipped in with three assists.

Max Jugnauth replied for the Chiefs (3-17-3), while goaltender Caleb Muri allowed all seven goals on 40 shots.

But take away a relatively easy two points against a struggling opponent and the Leafs are still on an absolute tear.

Nelson is on a seven-game winning streak, and has only lost once in its last 10 games. The team has outscored opponents an astonishing 30-8 in their last six games.

It’s not just the veterans who are scoring either. Head coach Adam DiBella pointed out Saturday’s big win was on a night when the team’s top three scorers — Joe Davidson, Bennett Anklewich and Johnny Carmichael — didn’t have a goal between them.

“To score seven goals and have your three leading point producers off the scoresheet shows that our depth is figuring out our league and then contributing to our wins.”

Seminoff, who just returned to the team after appearing in the BCHC Prospects Game, is another example of a rookie who two months into the season is beginning to look like a veteran. He had three points against Kelowna and looked poised at the blueline.

“I had a slower start, but definitely gained some more confidence playing this league and getting a little bit more ice time and just being able to rush the puck a little bit more. Just feeling better over the last few games.”

Leafs defenceman Tyler Seminoff has become one of Nelson’s best rookies. Photo: Tyler Harper

Leafs defenceman Tyler Seminoff has become one of Nelson’s best rookies. Photo: Tyler Harper

The Leafs needed less than three minutes to take the lead against the Chiefs.

Magis found space with the puck and was left alone in the zone as two Chiefs defenders were tied up at the blueline. Magis snapped a wristshot that beat Muri, giving Nelson the advantage on its fourth shot of the game.

Seminoff put Nelson up 2-0 later in the period. The defenceman’s point shot travelled through a crowd and rang off a post behind Muri.

“[Seminoff is] a great passer, he’s great defensively, his positioning is great, his IQ is great,” said DiBella. “When you can put it all together like you saw tonight, he’s like very, very effective player.”

The game tilted even further in Nelson’s favour in the second period.

The Leafs took a 3-0 lead when Boyd scored after a loose puck slid past Muri during a scramble in front of the net.

Kelowna got one back at 11:30 of the period when Jugnauth’s shot across the goal-line caught Larochelle off guard. But just over a minute later Quast beat Muri one-on-one with a wrist shot into the top corner to restore the three-goal lead.

Magis sent the Leafs to the intermission with his second of the game. A shot by Davidson rebounded to Magis, who scored on a tight angle for the 5-1 lead.

Magis thinks the reason for his team’s offensive magic isn’t actually magic at all — just old-fashioned hard work.

“Definitely starting in the D-zone first and then working up to a neutral zone and getting in deep and then just working hard in the offensive zone.”

The onslaught continued into the third. A shot bounced off Muri’s chest back to Magis, who scored to complete his hat trick and earn a fan’s hat tossed onto the ice.

DiBella said Magis’s skill was obvious in training camp. He just needed a little time to start producing.

“He’s got tons of skill, tons of speed. Very creative. Really good shot and he’s understanding that he doesn’t need to be a foot away from the goalie to score with his shot. With his shot he can score from the top of the circle.”

Partington added one more shot to the Chiefs’ ego with just over a minute left in regulation. He took a pass from rookie Dawson Davis and whipped a close shot in for the 7-1 lead.

Leaflets: Kelowna didn’t appear to like Nelson running up the score. A pair of fights had to be separated in the dying minutes of regulation. … The game was the annual fundraiser for the Nelson and Area Friends of the Family, which assists families who need to leave the region for child medical treatment. … The Chiefs’ iced a European player, a rarity for the KIJHL. Forward Oliver King is from Glasgow, Scotland. … Nelson next hosts the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Tuesday.

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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