Matti Jmaeff is back in the Nelson Junior Leafs line-up.

Nelson Leafs look to make statement in tight Murdoch Division

In a Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season, there are a great many variables and unknowns.

In a Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season, there are a great many variables and unknowns. But one thing is always certain: the top three teams in the Neil Murdoch Division are going to be amongst the best in the league and are going to be slugging it out for division bragging rights all season long.

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Castlegar Rebels and Nelson Leafs are perennial KIJHL powerhouses who have taken turns over the last couple decades as league champions. The Spokane Braves might be lacking banners in their arena, but the division’s American cousins are always strongly in the mix.

Because of the might of the Neil Murdoch, divisional match-ups become terribly important no matter what point the season is at. The Leafs will face an early season test when they tangle with the Rebels in a key home-and-home weekend.

“This is a big weekend,” said Leafs coach Frank Maida after watching his team take four of a possible six points in a three-game homestand this past weekend.

“We need to really focus on our division and be up for the challenge in these games. Winning games against teams in your division can separate you either way.”

Though Friday night’s game at the Nelson District Community Complex will only be the Leafs’ tenth of season, a pair of wins will set an important tone for the rest of the season. With a 5-3-1-0 record, the Leafs currently sit in the third place in the division, three points behind the Nitehawks and two points shy of the Rebels. Two wins would catapult them ahead of their Highway 3A rivals.

If the Leafs are to come away with four points they will need to be more consistent as a team. Though it’s early in the season, a top line has emerged with captain Colton Schell clicking with rookie Colton McCarthy and power winger Jacob Boyczuk. Though the line has produced most of the points so far, Maida feels his team has other lines who have been steeping up.

“We are getting an equal amount of scoring from all lines,” said Maida. “We are very deep both upfront and defensively. We are setting lines and have some guys who are starting feel comfortable with each other and it is paying off in games.”

One of the recent additions that should prove to bolster the attack is Matti Jmaeff. The Creston native arrived back in Nelson last week after being released by the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Last season Jmaeff scored 14 goals and added 25 assists in his first season with the Leafs.

“Matti will be a big part of our team,” said Maida. “He brings a lot of size and offence to our team, he is a big addition.”

The Leafs are also enjoying some scoring from its defence. In Sunday’s 7-0 win over the Chase Heat, KIJHL rookie Seth Schmidt scored two goals and added a pair of assists. The Creston native played with the Midget AAA Ice last season and the 17-year-old is expected to continue to play a big role on the blueline.

“Seth has been really coming along really well,” Maida said. “He is getting to understand our systems and the junior game a lot better. Now he is being rewarded and working really well with Kevin Bow in that pairing.”

The puck drops at the NDCC at 7 p.m. The Castlegar side of the home-and-home will be played on Saturday night.

 

Just Posted

RDCK moves ahead with Castlegar rec complex upgrade plan

Board approves grant application for $13 million from provincial, federal governments

Cottonwood Lake preservation group surpasses $50,000 fundraising goal

In 28 days, 393 donors have contributed to the fund

Last of southern Selkirk caribou relocated to Revelstoke area

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

Scammers using Castlegar home for rental fraud

Local realtors say the problem is happening more frequently with their properties

West Kootenay radio club says local network in need of upgrades

Club president Lane Wilson estimated $100,000 of work required

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

BREAKING: Jury finds man accused of killing B.C. girl, 12, guilty

Twelve-year-old Monica Jack disappeared in May 1978 while riding her bike along a highway in Merritt, B.C.

Most Read