The Nelson Junior Leafs survived an atypical slow start at the Nelson and District Community Complex Wednesday night to notch their fifth win a row.
The league-leading Leafs took on the Grand Forks Border Bruins for the third straight game in a row and the Neil Murdoch Division basement dwellers took it to their hosts in the first 20 minutes.
The Border Bruins scored the first goal of the game on the powerplay 12 minutes in when Luke Jones beat Nelson starter Cody Boeckman. Just over a minute later a Grand Forks forward came close to increasing the lead to two on a breakaway, but rattled his shot off the post.
With six minutes left in the opening period, captain Colton
Schell tied the score to send the teams into the dressing rooms tied.
The high powered Leafs offence typically outshoots teams in every period, but on Wednesday night were outshot in the first 12-11.
“We didn’t come out and play the way we usually can,” said Leafs’ forward Aaron Dunlap. “We usually come out a lot faster and that didn’t happen tonight.”
In a somewhat lackluster middle frame, Carson Willans gave the home side the lead when he scored on a breakway, beating Grand Forks starter Dominic Stadnyk while killing a penalty. It was the only goal of the period.
“They’re [Grand Forks] getting better,” said Dunlap, who came to the Leafs from Anchorage, Alaska. “They have a really good goalie and they work hard.”
The Leafs played a more typical period in the third, controlling the majority of the play.
Just under five minutes into the final period, Dunlap cruised down the rightwing boards and made a nice pass to Kootenay Midget Ice call-up Justin Post who jammed it past Stadnyk to increase the lead to 3-1.
“I was coming down the boards and saw him standing in front of the net, I just wanted to get the puck to him,” said Dunlap.
With five minutes remaining in the game, Leafs rookie defenceman Cole Arcuri secured the win with a nice goal that he shelved over the short side of Stadnyk.
The victory keeps the Leafs atop the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League standings, five up on the Castlegar Rebels. The Leafs have not lost in regulation since October 19, a 17-game run that has impressed even the players themselves.
“It’s always fun going to the rink,” said Leafs veteran forward James Sorrey.
Next up for the Leafs is the Kimberley Dynamiters who are making a western swing out of their Eddie Mountain Division comfort zone. The game goes Saturday night at the NDCC with the puck dropping at 7 p.m.