After a playoff run that was ended swiftly in the first round, Nelson Junior Leafs head coach Frank Maida says that it was a season of improvement for the local Junior B hockey team.
“We progressed and learned a lot as a group and came together as a team for the end,” said Maida.
The Leafs ended the regular season third in the Neil Murdoch division of the KIJHL and last week were knocked out of the first round by the Castlegar Rebels in five games, but plan to bite back next season.
“I thought the season went pretty well for both myself and the team,” said Leafs defenceman Jonathon Petrash, who finished his last junior hockey season with the Leafs.
“It’s definitely not the ending that we wanted, but for a young team we accomplished a lot and I’m proud of the team. Next year will be a better year for the guys coming back.”
The Leafs will be having a spring camp this April to recruit fresh players, which is open for those 15 to 17 years old.
“The big thing next season will be experience,” said Maida. “We’ll see what we get back for a core group of players next year and look for a good year next season.”
“It’s kind of a bitter ending unfortunately for my junior career, but for the guys coming back it’s a good experience for them to gain and next year I’m sure the Leafs will go really far in the playoffs,” said Petrash.
“Just coming back to Nelson this year was a big highlight for me because the town is unbelievable. The town, the fans, the coaches were all great to me.”
Maida says he’s confident that there will be a number of current Leafs players making the move up the ladder to Junior A hockey next season, but they’ll just have to wait and see when the time comes.
“I think it was a good season… I’d really like to thank the fans for coming out, the crowd support is great all year,” said Maida.
“My favourite part was getting to know the players as individual young men and watch them improve their hockey playing on the ice and become great young men.”