In the playoffs you can’t take afford to take a shift off or you pay a price. On Monday night, the Nelson Junior Leafs took the whole second period off and it cost them Game three against the Castlegar Rebels.
“When you are in the playoffs against a difficult team like the Rebels you have to play 60 minutes,” said Leafs assistant coach Stu Linnen. “We won the first period and then we lost the second period bad. We won the third period, we gave an effort to try and come back, but it was a little too late.”
The final result was a 5-3 Rebels win and a 2-1 series deficit for the Leafs.
The Leafs got on the board first just over seven minutes into the game when Brett Norman brought the large crowd at the Nelson and District Community Complex to their feet during a four-on-four situation.
After the Leafs goal, it was the Rebels who took control of the game dominating play for more than seven minutes, thanks in large part to powerplay opportunities. Leafs starting goaltender Andrew Walton — who grew up in Castlegar — was up to the task making a number of huge saves to enable his team to head into the dressing room after 20 minutes with the 1-0 lead.
The Leafs started the second period on the powerplay, but it was the Rebels who took advantage of a defensive miscue. Castlegar sniper Anthony Delong scored on a breakaway to tie the score at ones.
Two minutes later with former Leafs defenceman Riley Henderson in the penalty box for delay of game, JJ Bietel took a shot from the point that was tipped by Norman past Rebels starter Jordan Gluck to restore Nelson’s lead.
But then the roof caved in.
Five minutes into the period Delong started the middle stanza scoring rampage when he beat Walton five-hole. Six minutes after that Diego Bartlett’s hard work paid off when he beat Walton over the glove hand on a wrap-around to give the Rebels the 3-2 lead.
Defensive breakdowns by the Leafs continued and a minute later Arthur Andrews gave his team a 4-2 lead when he capitalized on an in close opportunity.
With just over two minutes left in the second, Scott Morisseau made it a five-goal second period with a powerplay marker.
“We had four goals in that period that were just missed assignments by guys and we can’t make those,” Linnen told the Star after the game. “A team like the Rebels will make you pay, they don’t miss opportunities… once they have it, it’s in the net.”
The Leafs played a spirited third period and took the play to the Rebels, but it was not enough. Nik Newman scored on a rebound five minutes into the period, but Gluck held strong to secure the win for his side.
“We have to forget this game and put it right in the past so we can be ready and prepared for tomorrow [Tuesday],” said Linnen. “If we just feel sorry for ourselves then at seven o’clock tomorrow night they are going to jump all over us. We have to come back harder than we did today and not look back.”
Game four goes Tuesday night at the NDCC starting at 7 p.m.