Welcome to Quick Shift, which provides a preview of each of the 20 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League teams, with insight from their respective general managers/head coach. Next up is the Nelson Leafs in the Neil Murdoch division. The Leafs finished second in their division with a 24-15-4-1 record and lost in the opening round of the KIJHL Teck Cup playoffs to Beaver Valley. Leafs Head Coach Briar McNaney answers questions about his roster.
Did you have a good off-season of recruiting?
We feel we had a great recruiting season, and are deep at every position. Recruiting quality players has been getting better and better every single year and with the Junior A designation that helps. We have guys on our team who had offers to go to other CJHL teams. We’re very excited that they chose Nelson over those other destinations and it wouldn’t have been made possible without the designation.
What do you like about the group of players returning who will play a big part on your team?
I like that every one of our players took the off-season very seriously and returned in their best condition. They all came back with a fire in their belly and put themselves in the best position to have a strong season as a team and individually.
What were some key areas of success achieved last season that the organization wants to build on?
We would like to build on our regular season success and roll that into a strong playoff push this season.
Who are players that you will count on to provide offence?
We are very deep up front and I don’t have a single forward who can’t put up some offensive production. Our big three is probably Seamus Boyd (31 points in 40 games last season), Crae Dawson (10 points in 12 games after trade from Osoyoos) and Aiden Turner, 19, (24 goals, 43 points in 33 games in the USPHL Premier League). The season before Turner produced 28 points in 34 games with the Victoria Cougars in the VIJHL. Second-year forward Dawson Davis had 20 points in 41 games.
Boyd is in much better shape than last year and has a smile on his face that I haven’t seen before. He seems reenergized. He is getting more creative with what he is doing and he’s another year wiser and sees the game much better. We believe he is going to have a fantastic year.
What do you like about goalie Jackson McLeod, 18, that he is going to bring?
He has some experience at the CJHL level (played for the Winnipeg Blues in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League). He makes himself large in the net, has great rebound control and is square to the puck pretty well. We’re pretty happy with the entire package that he brings. We’re very fortunate to have him and he’s going to have a great year.
Note: In 20 games last season, McLeod was 4-8-1 with a 4.21 goals against average and .886 save percentage.