Anderson Violette made the save of his dreams Friday night.
Late in the first period, the Nelson Leafs goaltender stacked his pads and fell to his blocker side before putting his glove up and robbing a Chase Heat forward who had a clear look at the net.
The save stunned the crowd, but Violette later said he’s been thinking about making that move for weeks.
“It’s just a really fun save to make. I’ve been going to bed dreaming about it.”
Violette had 21 saves and was often the difference maker as the Leafs edged the Chase Heat 4-3. His save total may not appear especially high, but he held off Heat pressure in the second period and then kept the Leafs from falling apart when Chase rallied to score two goals in the final three minutes.
That one save though. It was so good it drew a comparison to vintage Patrick Roy from Leafs coach Mario DiBella.
“He was definitely the difference maker,” said DiBella. “I thought that was the one position where we outplayed them. Kudos to Anderson for coming up with two or three Herculean-type saves.”
Cole Wyatt, Tyler Pisiak, Jaden Shumilak and Shawn Campbell scored for the Leafs.
Evan Hughes, Cam Watson and Hayden Wiebe replied for the Heat, while Chase goaltender Vince Benedetto stopped 20 shots.
The next night, the Leafs romped to a 10-1 blowout win against the Grand Forks Border Bruins.
Campbell scored a hat trick, Wyatt and Reid Wilson each scored twice and had two assists, Keenan Crossman, Adam Diotte and Brady Miller added singles and Logan MacDonald chipped in with three assists.
Nelson native Tenzin Mint meanwhile finished with 21 saves as the Leafs won their third straight game.
Sidney Cruz replied for the Border Bruins. Shane Zilka was chased from net after allowing six goals on 26 shots. He was replaced by Dillon Beebe, who allowed the next four goals.
On Friday, the game began with a rare 5-on-4 after a Chase player was penalized for a warm-up violation, but was otherwise uneventful until late in the first period.
The Leafs were on a power play when Wyatt whipped a wrist shot top shelf to beat Benedetto for the 1-0 lead at 5:36 to play before the intermission.
Chase led in possession for most of the second period, but the Leafs held on largely thanks to their goaltender. Violette again stunned the visitors when he denied a 2-on-1 rush by sliding across his crease to deflect a shot with his forearm.
Pisiak rewarded Violette’s effort. The Leafs were on a power play when Pisiak was left alone and fired a hard shot past Benedetto for his first goal of the season.
Pisiak was actually planning to pass when he heard his coaches yelling from the bench to shoot. That turned out to be good advice.
“I didn’t even see the goalie,” said Pisiak. “I just saw a bunch of bodies in front and thought it would be a good time to shoot.”
Nelson wasn’t finished. Shumilak picked up the puck just outside the Heat’s crease and backhanded a shot in with 22 seconds left for the 3-0 lead.
Chase finally cracked the scoreboard early in the third. A slashing penalty to Leafs defenceman Alek Erichuk put the Heat on the man advantage, and Hughes took advantage to cut the deficit to two goals.
Campbell turned on the rockets for Nelson’s fourth goal of the game. He swiped the puck early in a Chase power play, outskated a defender and slipped a shot past Benedetto’s pads.
Chase pulled Benedetto during another power play with over three minutes left on the clock. It immediately paid off when Watson scored off the draw.
Benedetto returned to his net, but the Heat still needed two goals to force overtime. They pulled him yet again with two minutes left and nearly got another, but Violette went to the ice to make the save despite several Heat players celebrating a goal.
Chase very nearly completed its rally. Wiebe finished off a two-on-one rush by scoring on Violette with just 26 seconds left, but time finally ran out on the Heat and the Leafs left the ice with a hard-earned win.
Leaflets: Nelson next begins a six-game road trip tonight against the Fernie Ghostriders.