The Junior Leafs showed dominance in the first period of last Saturday’s game against Creston at the NDCC. It’s a style of play coach Frank Maida wants his team playing this season.

Nelson Leafs have blocks in place

The Leafs roared out of the gates last weekend, controlling defending league champion Castlegar on Friday night

It’s still early in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season, but the building blocks appear to be in place for the Nelson Junior Leafs.

The Leafs roared out of the gates last weekend, controlling defending league champion Castlegar on Friday night and then putting on a clinic in the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s game against Creston.

It’s a long way until the Leafs host the 2014 Cyclone Taylor Cup in April, but coach Frank Maida has put together a core that looks like it can legitimately challenge for a provincial championship.

In the summer Maida made a blockbuster deal with Castlegar to bring Jamie Vlanich and Travis Wellman to Nelson. In the opening weekend, the two 20-year-olds showed why they were sought after. Playing together, the two diminutive speedsters combined for nine points in two games.

“Obviously Wellman and Vlanich have put up the numbers,” said Maida. “They are playing very well and they are going to be leaders on this team. But as a group, every player is buying in and it’s working well.”

Another line that was noticeable was the trio of Aaron Dunlap, Bryce Nielsen and Tyler Garcia. The three formidable forwards controlled play every time they hit the ice.

“There is a lot of strength, skill and speed on that line,” said Maida. “Once they gel a little more they will be a great combination.”

You have to score to win, but championships are built on defence. In that department the Leafs look very strong with the pre-season acquisition of Darnel St. Pierre and a core of veteran blueliners who are very mobile and sturdy.

“He was the most valuable defenceman in the Doug Birks Division [with Revelstoke] last season and he is demonstrating why he was that player,” Maida said of St. Pierre. “We’re very happy to have Darnel as part of our team.”

Earlier this week Maida bolstered the backline with the addition of Patrick Croome. The newcomer hails from Calgary, but was the captain of his Junior B Peninsula Panthers on Vancouver Island last season.

This week the Leafs have been preparing for their only game of the weekend against Summerland on Friday night at the Nelson and District Community Complex. Maida has taken the opportunity to start to shape the core he has in place.

“It’s been all about our systems this week,” he said. “We need to get the players to understand the systems and that is what we will be working on.”

 

Friday’s game starts at 7 p.m.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

Nelson hospice starts Walk and Talk group in Lakeside Park

The Walk and Talk Grief Group is offered free to anyone grieving the death of a loved one

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

RDCK to implement new emergency alert notification system

System also includes sends alerts for water advisories

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Most Read