The under-15 Nelson Leafs edged Aldergrove 4-3 in regulation to capture the gold medal at the Winfield U15 Recreation Tournament on Jan. 16.
The victory followed a dominant defensive performance by the team during round-robin and semifinal action, with only two goals against leading up to the finals as netminder Canyon Cardinal posted a tournament-leading 1.0 goals against average.
Brody Arjun, a healthy scratch in the final, led the Leafs in points for the weekend with five goals and three assists, continuing his 12 game scoring-streak.
Undefeated through the first four games, the Leafs romped past Winfield U15 Recreation #1 in the semifinal 7-0 and were then matched up against undefeated Aldergrove for the midday final.
Nelson coach Tyler Rice praised Arjun for his character when the team was forced to have one player as a health scratch due to BC Hockey’s limit of 17 skaters.
“The team was cognizant of the fact a key offensive force would be absent for the final when Arjun’s name was pulled from the hat, which was promptly muted by Arjun’s poise, support and presence in the change-room and on the bench as the players prepared for the game. The character that Arjun displayed was admirable!” said Rice.
Nelson fell behind early in the first period with Aldergrove picking off a Nelson pass at the Aldergrove blueline, which resulted in a breakaway for tournament scoring leader Kaelum Sigouin who opened the scoring.
Quentin Kerekes of Nelson, responded minutes later to tie it up for the Leafs, with an assist from Kingston Kemp.
The first period and into the second was a non-stop back and forth tug-a-war that saw Connor Hill of Nelson finding the back of the net with an assist from Jasper Marshall. Nelson had a brief 2-1 lead that was countered by Logan Claxton of Aldergrove to tie the game for the balance of the second period.
Quinn Wilkinson of Nelson ignited the Leafs with a pair of goals in the first 10 minutes of the third to give the Leafs a 4-2 lead.
Aldergrove rallied late in the third to bring the game within one, with Sidak Bath rounding out the scoring at the six-minute mark.
The fleeting minutes of the third had Nelson on their heels with Wilkinson taking a body checking penalty, with just over two minutes to play in the third. Aldergrove pulled their goalie resulting in a 6-on-4 for the final minutes.
Cardinal held fast between the posts for Nelson and the buzzer sounded with the players flooding the net minder in celebration.
The U15 Leafs next game is January 28 at 10:15am vs Trail at the NDCC.
The U15 Leafs consist of players Brody Arjun, Colton Poole, Liam Foord, Kingston Kemp, Conner Hill, Jaxon Slomba, Ronan Outram, Torin Munroe, Preston Hobbs, Quentin Kerekes, Hayden Rice, Tadhg Dolan, Charles Shrieves, Phoenix Scott, Jasper Marshall, Kieran Mucha, Quinn Wilkinson, Hugo Muparutsa, head coach Tyler Rice, assistant coach Aaron Shrieves, Pat Dolan, Cris Outram, safety manager Brandon Cardinal and manager Nicole Le Bihan.