Dustin Johnson’s long wrist shot 26 seconds into the third period stood as the game-winner as the Nelson Leafs snapped their losing streak against the Castlegar Rebels with a hard-earned 5-3 win at the NDCC Arena Tuesday night.
Johnson, a 20-year-old who arrived in Nelson earlier this month, now has eight goals in nine appearances with the Leafs after scoring 37 times last season with the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials.
The Rebels played catch-up all night, falling behind 2-0 in the first period thanks to a power-play goal from Braeden Hikichi and a pretty two-on-one play finished off by Colton Schell.
Stuart Walton and Erik Wentzel would draw the Rebels level before the end of the first before Cody Abbey tapped a rebound past Ross for the second period’s only goal.
After Johnson started the third frame with a bang, the Rebels clawed back thanks to leading scorer Mike Wiest.
The 20-year-old from Alberta stole a breakout pass and snapped a shot past Leafs goaltender Marcus Beesley, who stopped 15 of 18 Rebel shots on the night.
Castlegar was visibly frustrated for much of the game: they mustered only seven shots on goal in the final 40 minutes, and were stymied on all five of their power-play attempts.
They still hold a 5-1 season series lead on the Leafs, but their five-game overall winning streak is now a thing of the past.
The team won’t have long to dwell on a disappointing night, as they open up a three-game weekend Friday in Kimberley.
Castlegar returns home Saturday night to face the Princeton Posse.