Reid Wilson started the week practising with the Castlegar Rebels. He ended the week by scoring on them.
The Nelson Leafs acquired Wilson on Thursday from Castlegar. The next night he scored twice in his debut against Spokane, then on Saturday he added another goal in the Leafs’ 5-0 romp against the Rebels.
“It was a crazy two days,” said Wilson. “I’m really excited to be here.”
The Leafs appear to have landed a developing offensive talent in Wilson, who has already surpassed his points totals from last season and has goals in six of his last seven games.
“Reid’s an extremely smart hockey player,” said Leafs head coach Mario DiBella. “I would put him on par with anyone in this league as far as puck protection is concerned. He’s got great speed and good polish. I think it’s a huge trade for us and Reid fits in real well.”
He may look good in green and white, but Wilson said it was still a strange feeling to play against the only KIJHL team he had ever previously known.
“As soon as we were in warmups I was kind of looking over to the other side, like hey, I’m usually over there,” he said. “It was definitely weird.”
Jack Karran scored twice and Logan Wullum and Emery Neilson added singles for the Leafs (18-6-1), who won their third straight game.
Nelson native Tenzin Mint made 21 saves to earn his first KIJHL shutout. The Leafs were in need of a goaltender following a suspension to starter Hunter Young and having traded C.J. Wedenig earlier in the week.
That set the stage for 16-year-old Mint, who played steady for 60 minutes.
“I felt really slow in a way,” he said. “I just felt really focused, I could see everything slower.”
Mint made his KIJHL debut in October but was yanked after allowing three goals on seven shots against Spokane. But DiBella said Mint looked like a different goaltender on his second appearance with the Leafs.
“What a bounce back from his first start,” said DiBella. “He was a little nervous when he got the first start in Spokane and to watch him come into [Saturday’s] game with just ice in his veins, it was just great.”
Cedric Lesieur stopped 21 shots in net for the Rebels (7-15-3).
Saturday’s game wasn’t the most compelling contest through the first six minutes of regulation, with just three shots on net for the Rebels and zero for the Leafs.
Luckily for the Leafs, they only ended up requiring four shots to get on the scoreboard. Karran scored for the fourth consecutive game to put Nelson up 1-0.
Karran was key in setting up Nelson’s next goal. The Leafs were on the penalty kill when Karran’s forecheck surprised the Castlegar defence. Karran managed to swipe the puck and put it on Lesieur with an on-rushing Wullum in position to bat in a rebound for the 2-0 lead.
A chippy second period started out with a hard hit on Wullum that left the Nelson forward down on the ice motionless for several minutes. Wullum later returned to the game, but that hit set a more aggressive tone for the game.
Tensions came to a head at the end of the second.
Nelson was on the penalty kill when Karran once again forced a turnover in the Rebels’ zone. This time however he turned on his own, skated a short breakaway and beat Lesieur glove-side for his second of the night at 1:39.
That game got out of hand moments later. A scrum on the boards led to Karran being sent off, and the period ended with a series of quick saves by Mint and a pile of players in front of him.
Nelson added to its lead five minutes into the third period. A squad of Leafs took over the Rebels’ zone on delayed call, which allowed Neilson to skate in hard on Lesieur and knock in a rebound for the 4-0 advantage.
It appeared as though Tyson Soobotin had the Leafs’ fifth goal halfway through the period, but the celebration was short-lived after the goal was waved off because of a player in the crease.
That hardly mattered. Wilson skated in soon after, deked and scored on his former team to mark a blowout.
Leaflets: Nelson’s injury ward continues to swell. G Caiden Kreitz (upper body), F Shawn Campbell (lower body), F Scott Lancaster (upper body) and D Kalem Hanlon (upper body) were joined in the stands by D Alex Erichuk (lower body). F Brady Miller (upper body) was also injured during the game. G Hunter Young (two games) and F Mitchell Lavoie (one game) meanwhile sat out with suspensions, while Nelson played the game without a backup goalie. … D Dylan Rantucci has been released from the team. … Sorry dabbers, bingo has been scrapped at Leafs’ games. … The Leafs next play on the road Friday against the Kimberley Dynamiters before returning home Saturday to host the Columbia Valley Rockies.