The Nelson Leafs hope hockey in the heat leads to a championship in the spring.
Forty-seven players were on the ice at the Nelson and District Community Complex last weekend for the Leafs’ training camp. Nelson captured its first Neil Murdoch Division in four years last season and advanced to its first conference final in eight years.
What happened at the camp will, in part, determine whether the Leafs take that next big step to a KIJHL championship.
“We did a real good job I think of recruiting,” said head coach Mario DiBella. “I think we have a number of top-end players who will be here this weekend for our camp. We’re looking forward to getting things started here.”
The camp featured several players returning from last year’s squad including forwards Ryan Piva, Jack Karran, Logan Wullum and Mitch Lavoie, defencemen Michael LeNoury and Michael Bladon, and goaltender Caiden Kreitz who will be this season’s starter.
Off-season trade acquisitions Trail Thompson and Shawn Campbell were also on the ice, as well as local products such as Joe Davidson, Noah Quinn, Ian Love, Kaleb Percival, Tenzin Mint and Amran Bhabra.
All in all, there was plenty of talent on the ice for DiBella and general manager Lance Morey to pick from.
“I think that we’re looking for a certain skill set,” said DiBella. “We’re looking for players who are hard working, who can put the puck in the net. We felt pretty confident that we have hit those marks.”
The Leafs open exhibition play Aug. 30 on the road against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks before returning one night later for a home date against the Revelstoke Grizzlies.
The regular season kicks off Sept. 7 for the Leafs in Nelson against the North Okanagan Knights.