The Nelson Leafs now trail Castlegar 3-1 in the playoff series after dropping a game against the Rebels 7-6 in overtime.
The Leafs fell just minutes into the first period when the Rebels took advantage of some weak Nelson defense and netted a short-handed goal to set the tone for the rest of regulation time.
“It’s hard for our goalie to play a strong game when right off the bat he’s faced with two on one’s and breakaway’s,” said Leafs assistant coach Stu Linnen.
“The best thing for us to do is to come out in the first 10 minutes and take the play to them so we don’t have to play catch-up hockey all game long.”
Castlegar scored their second goal only about a minute after their first from the stick of Stuart Walton.
The Leafs wouldn’t go down without a fight though, and Matthew Naka was the first to let the Rebels know that with an unassisted goal five minutes into the first period.
The rest of the first period went back and forth between teams as Carson Willians, Max Mois and Nik Newman each added a mark of their own to counter each of the Rebels’ goals leaving the final first period score at 5-4 for the Rebels.
Each team played smarter defense for the second period, but the Nelson Leafs started to show signs of frustration, taking five penalties including a 10 minute misconduct penalty for J.J Beitel, who also happened to score the only Leafs goal in the middle period to counter the Rebel’s sixth goal.
The Leafs came into the third period charging hard and hoping to tie up the score. Both teams continued to battle hard, however resulting in a very physical game with big hits followed by ample crowd applause.
Just five minutes into the third, Nik Newman suffered a cross-check form Braydon Horcoff that sent him into the boards head first and off the ice for several minutes while Horcoff was given a game misconduct.
With only a minute left in the third period, the Leafs pulled their goalie for an extra attacker in one last effort to send it to overtime, and with 35.8 seconds in regulation time Patrick Martens buried a mark in a mad scramble in front of the net sending fans to their feet.
Despite their efforts, however, the game was ended by Scott Morisseau who slid the puck neatly under Walton.
“Once they got to a quick lead, we didn’t fold our tent, we chipped away and clawed our way back and were able to put it into overtime. Unfortunately we didn’t get the breaks that we wanted,” said Linnen.
“It’s a huge loss… now it’s a must win situation,” said Linnen.
The Leafs play game five in the playoff series in Castlegar Thursday.