Leafs captain David Sanchez skates past a Spokane defender during Game 1 on Friday. Photo: Tyler Harper

Leafs captain David Sanchez skates past a Spokane defender during Game 1 on Friday. Photo: Tyler Harper

Nelson Leafs open playoffs with win

The Leafs downed the Spokane Braves 4-1

David Sanchez couldn’t walk a year ago. Now he’s the fastest man on the ice.

The Nelson Leafs captain suffered a major leg injury just prior to the 2018-19 playoffs. He didn’t return to the ice until October, and even then could only skate for a time at half speed.

But when the playoffs opened Friday, Sanchez showed what two working legs and a year of determination looks like on the ice.

Sanchez used a flash of speed for a breakaway goal that was Nelson’s first of the playoffs, and the Leafs went on to beat the Spokane Braves 4-1 in Game 1 of the Neil Murdoch Division semifinal.

“I can skate faster than that,” said Sanchez. “I’ll skate harder tomorrow, harder the next series if we make it there. I’m just so excited to make it here, honestly.”

Shawn Campbell scored twice, while Reid Wilson also scored for Nelson and Anderson Violette made 27 saves.

Ian McIntosh had the lone goal for Spokane, while Austin Madge stopped 26 shots.

Game 2 is Saturday in Nelson.

The visitors scored on their first shot of the series less than five minutes after the puck dropped. McIntosh had a clean look from the blueline, and his slapshot beat Violette for the early lead.

Leafs head coach Mario DiBella said the goal was the product of post-season anxiety, and all his goalie needed was a little reassurance.

“I know all the players were a little nervous at the start of this game, holding their stick a little bit tight,” he said.

“Andy got caught deep in his net on that first goal and he got down on himself. As a coaching staff we just reminded him, ‘You’re an all-star goaltender in this league. Just come up to the top of the crease and we’ll live with that result.’”

Violette responded, shutting down the Braves the rest of the night with several key saves in one of his best games of the season.

“I thought he was on point making all those saves, all those ones we need, being a brick wall,” said Sanchez. “All the things we love from him.”

Spokane continued to frustrate the Leafs until late in the first when Sanchez swiped the puck from two defenders. The Leafs captain turned on the after burners and beat Madge stick side to tie the game at one.

Sanchez nearly swiped another once the second period began. He again used his speed to steal the puck from a Spokane defender and had Madge beat, but this time Sanchez’s shot rang off the post.

It was another show of speed that put the Leafs ahead. Aiden Jenner and Wilson combined for a quick 2-on-1 that ended with Wilson scoring what would turn out to be the game-winning goal.

Campbell made it 3-1 on a quick play late in the third. He turned and fired a rebound moments off a faceoff that caught Madge out of position.

Spokane might have cut the deficit by one a short time later if not for a pair of great saves by Violette. The visitors were on the power play when Violette stopped one shot then sprawled to the ground behind him, reached and out snatched the puck just before it could be shot in.

Campbell put the game out of reach in the third. Sanchez’s shot rebounded off Madge to a waiting Campbell, who calmly tapped the puck into a wide-open net for a 4-1 advantage.

That’s the first win down in what the Leafs hope will be a long playoff run.

“It settles a little bit of anxiety, but at the same time we’ve got to go back to work tomorrow,” said Sanchez.

Leaflets: Prior to the game, Leafs defenceman Kaleb Comishin was honoured as the KIJHL’s best defenceman of the Neil Murdoch Division. Comishin had eight goals and 26 assists in 37 regular season games. … Nelson played without Comishin (lower body), F Cole Wyatt (upper), D Logan Macdonald (upper) and F Tyler Badger.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Nelson Leafs

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

Just Posted

A mushroom grower plans to plan new mushrooms in fallen trees in the Kaslo Community Forest. File photo
Kaslo mushroom farmer given green light for unique project

Robin Mercy will plant mushrooms in the Kaslo Community Forest

Nelson dancers Glynis Waring, Slava Doval and Amanda Papailhou, and musician Nella Banner, premier Respired on April 11. Photo: Submitted
New dance work the latest online offering from Capitol Theatre

Local performers will unveil Respired beginning April 11

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Most Read