If this keeps up, any team that beats the league-leading Nelson Leafs should be very, very worried about a rematch. What else are we to conclude after Nelson administered a 9-1 thrashing of Castlegar one day after the Rebels handed the Leafs their first loss of the young KIJHL season?
Sunday’s onslaught, played at home before a sparse crowd reported at 262, was unusual for several reasons. For one thing, the Rebels actually opened the scoring 2:16 into the first on a Lindan Calliou tally. Less than two minutes later Aaron Dunlap tied it. The penalty-free period ended 1-1, giving little indication of what was to come.
In the second period, with Carson Worning off for holding, the Leafs capitalized on the power play and Travis Wellman scored his league best 15th goal of the season. But that would be his only offensive contribution of the night. One minute later, Blair Andrews made it 3-1 for the Leafs.
With about five minutes left in the period, Castlegar’s Seth Schmidt and Leafs leading playmaker Jamie Vlanich traded punches. Both were tossed from the game, but Schmidt received an extra two minutes as the aggressor. On the ensuing power play, Carson Willans put the Leafs up 4-1. Brandon Sookro added another Nelson goal in the last minute.
In the third period, the Rebels subbed backup Patrick Zubick for starting goaltender Nate Rabbitt, but it made little difference as the Leafs had another four-goal outburst. Brandon Sookro and Aaron Dunlap each notched their second of the night and Matthew Naka scored a pair. Sookro also had a couple of assists to finish the game with four points while Dunlap and Naka had three points each.
Nelson outshot Castlegar 42-20. Tylar Moffat made 19 saves in the win.
The Leafs, who lost to the Rebels 3-2 in double overtime Saturday, are now 8-0-1-1 through their first ten, three points up on the second-place Rebels in the Neil Murdoch Division with three games in hand. Beaver Valley is third, one point back of Castlegar with four games in hand.