Leafs continue to play numbers game as exhibition season winds down

first_imgMcLellan plans to carry 23 players. So that leaves six spots available for the players currently in Nelson or some BC Hockey League cuts.”We still have four forwards and two defencemen at the BCHL camps battling for jobs, which is good for us, and two at the Alberta Junior Hockey League as well,” McLellan explained.”Plus we have two carded players that haven’t made camp yet due to injuries. So we’re in a little bit of a numbers jam to be honest.”Against Castlegar, in the first of home-and-home series, Nelson fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period before outscoring the visitors 6-1 in the remaining 42 minutes.”We’ll just work through it,” McLellan said about the hectic preseason schedule that has the Leafs with a 2-1 record to date.”It would be nice to have some of the players here, but I’ve seen them play this summer so I know what they can do.”The rally was a nice sign for the head coach, who says it’s up to the players to determine if they stay or are let go.”If they bring it, they stay, if they don’t they’ll be released back to wherever they came from,” McLellan confessed.ICE CHIPS: The two teams complete the series Wednesday in Castlegar. Puck drop is 8 p.m. . . . McLellan said two players off the Leafs roster last season, Dylan Williamson and Cody Pavarinta, both were signed to play this season for Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League. Williamson finished the season with Nelson as the Leafs top offensive threat with nine goals and 13 assists in 18 games. Pavarinta spent parts of last season in Richmond with the Sockeyes after being released by Nelson following a 15-game stint with the Leafs. McLellan said he very proud the Leafs were able to help the two players reach the next level. . . .Three other players off the roster are playing in the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League — Darnell St. Pierre and Robson Cramer at SFU and Aaron Dunlap at Eastern Washington. The Nelson Leafs defeated the Castlegar Rebels 7-4 in a wide-open Kootenay International Junior Hockey League exhibition tilt Tuesday night at the NDCC Arena.However, at this time of the season it’s not the wins and losses that concerns Leaf coach Dave McLellan.It’s the play of his team that has the lion’s share of the coaches’ focus.”The guys here have games in the next two days that will help us make some final decisions, especially up front,” McLellan told The Nelson Daily Tuesday.”Our defence here is pretty much selected. So in these two games our forwards need to show us what they’ve got.”McLellan said the Leafs have 17 players currently carded for the upcoming season, which begins Friday at home against Kelowna Chiefs.last_img read more