The Nelson Leafs controlled the majority of play on Saturday night, firing 45 shots on net, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Revelstoke Grizzlies who hung on for a 3-2 win.
It looked, for a while, as if Nelson would be unable to find the back of the net at all. The Grizzlies opened up a 2-0 lead after one period, thanks to markers by Jeff Bochon and Tyler Chavez Leech.
After a scoreless second period, Revelstoke’s Chavez Leech got his second of the game to increase the lead to 3-0 midway through the third.
Nelson gave its fans something to cheer about when Michael Rand and Austin Lindsay scored 30 seconds apart to make it a 3-2 game with just over six minutes to go.
The Leafs had a golden opportunity to send the game into overtime when the Grizzlies took a penalty in the final minute. With the goalie also pulled for an extra attacker, the Leafs had a six on four opportunity, but couldn’t beat Grizzlies keeper Michael Lenko.
Adam Maida picked up the loss for Nelson, stopping 23 of 26 shots he faced.
After the game, Leafs head coach Dave McLellan said his squad didn’t get any puck luck.
“We really outworked them in many parts of the game. In the first period we were all over them and they ended up getting two goals,” said McLellan.
The coach was not overly happy with his goaltending during the match.
“I think Adam (Maida) got beat clean on the first one, he was down too early. The wrap around was kind of a bad one and I didn’t like the third goal either.”
He was also disappointed in the squad’s powerplay performance, saying that there were too many passes, rather than shots.
“Our powerplay couldn’t get going tonight, which is weird because we had a really good practice,” said the coach.
Too many little mistakes were being made on the ice.
An already exhausted Leafs’ squad now has less than a day to prepare for it’s next game, on Sunday, against the 100 Mile House Wranglers. The puck drops at 2:30 p.m. At the Nelson and District Community Complex.
“We have to work really hard to get ready,” said the coach.
Nelson has been battling injuries all season long, playing with a short bench most of the time. It may be beginning to take it’s toll on the players.
Both Nolan Percival and Timothy Nichols left Saturday night’s game with injuries, leaving the Leafs even more shorthanded.
“It’s becoming a problem. There’s just no way, we can’t go much longer like this with a short bench. It has caught up with us,” said McLellan.
The KIJHL trading deadline is January 10 so time is running out for the Leafs to make a big move.
“I spent most of the holidays trying to stay in touch with teams and looking for players to fill our roster spots. It’s pretty quiet right now. The guys I’m interested in, a lot of teams are interested in, so it’s hard to know where we are in the pecking order,” said McLellan who is also general manager of the Nelson squad.
Despite the injuries, McLellan said his players are giving it their all, every game.
“For our guys, I have to give them a lot of credit. They battle hard. This has been going on for two months now. With three defenceman it’s almost become ridiculous… I’m going to have to find a way to find players.”