Regular season is over with — Leafs now concentrate on post season

first_imgOkay.The regular season is done, over with, complete.Fifty-two taxing, troublesome and labourious games are now in the books for the Nelson Leafs.Thankfully, the Green and White can now forget about what has been a Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season to forget and concentrate on the first-round matchup against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, beginning Friday in Fruitvale.Nelson concluded the regular campaign on a sour note, dropping a 4-1 decision Sunday afternoon at the NDCC Arena to the visiting Castlegar Rebels.Two second-period goals by Konnor Madsen and Yannis Soukas proved to be the difference as the markers snapped a 1-1 tie to power the Rebels past the Leafs.“We’ve had a bunch of injuries this season, and because of that our bench has been always short,” said Leaf captain Aaron Dunlap when asked about the recent 52-game campaign.“When we were losing in games guys were getting tired and frustrated and once we started to get down on ourselves it was hard to win.”“But we’re starting to get players back and win games and keep our heads up more,” Dunlap added.Unfortunately, Sunday the Leafs were still missing a couple of key cogs in the wheel in forwards Dylan Williamson, Aaron Brewer, Branden Chow and Timothy Nichols.Of the four, Williamson and Brewer may be ready for Friday’s first game against Beaver Valley. The result saw the offence struggle against the Rebels.After Soukas opened the scoring in the first period, Matt MacDonald tied the game up for Nelson with a power play marker midway through the frame.Madsen restored the lead for Castlegar early in the second. Nelson looked to have tied the game late in the period when Dunlap was set up in the slot for a one-timer.However, Castlegar goalie Austin Wells somehow shot across the goal crease to thwart Dunlap, who could only look upwards in disbelief.Castlegar proceeded to go down the ice with Soukas scoring his second of the game to give the visitors some insurance heading into the period intermission.“It’s been a good season for us, except what happen a few weeks ago with the ineligible player and losing (head coach) Dave (McLellan) to suspension,” said Dunlap.“But I believe overall we’ve done pretty good considering.”Carson Wornig scored in the third to complete the scoring for Castlegar.Nelson, outshooting the Rebels 33-32 in the game, now prepare to somehow change direction this season has taken beginning Friday in Fruitvale in the first round of the Murdoch Division playoffs against the Nitehawks.Game two is Saturday before the series shifts to the NDCC Arena for Games three and four, February 23 & 24.Dunlap is optimistic the start of the post season is just the change the Leafs need.A few of the injured players are expected back.So too is Leaf head coach Dave McLellan, who has spent the past few weeks on the suspended list for the clerical error that cost the team points in the standings, dropping Nelson like a tire-iron from second to fourth in the division.“We’ve won some pretty big games of late,” Dunlap said.“We’ve beat BV (Beaver Valley) . . . we beat Kamloops (last weekend) and we’re starting to come together as a team,” the Alaskan native added.“For a while we had some negativity creep into the team but we’re starting to now play better and come together as a team.“Which recently it’s been a huge up for us.”Leaf fans can only hope the turn of the KIJHL page from regular season to playoffs is a change for the better for the Green and White.last_img

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