Leafs double Blazers 4-2

Carole Morris-Underhill
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Published on November 26, 2012

Mitch Culley was solid in nets for the Valley Maple Leafs, stopping 31 of 33 shots on net.

Published on November 26, 2012

Team captain Nathan Little, No. 20, pictured far right, snaps a puck into the net, putting the Maple Leafs ahead 2-1 near the end of the first.

Published on November 26, 2012

Team captain Nathan Little, No. 20, is congratulated by teammates on his late first period goal.

Published on November 26, 2012

Nick MacKenzie and goalie Mitch Culley were at the ready should the Blazers' team captain, Shayne OderKirk, make an attempt on net. In the third period, OderKirk did manage to sneak one past Culley, but it wasn't enough for the Blazers to win the game.

Published on November 26, 2012

Jeff Longaphy, of Kentville, looks to get the puck out of his end while the Blazers' Justin Hessian closes in.

Published on November 26, 2012

Mitch Culley blocks Zach Thomas' attempt on net while defenceman Nick MacKenzie stands at the ready. 

Published on November 26, 2012

Jory Uhlman and Brandon Parker attempt to salvage the Leafs' attempt on net while Brennan Laite anticipates another shot.

Published on November 26, 2012

Brennan Laite managed to stop 50 of 54 shots. Pictured is Colin Gillis, of Middleton, making a solid attempt on net.

Published on November 26, 2012

The Valley Maple Leafs kept Sackville goalie Brennan Laite busy. Pictured taking a shot on net is Austin Himmelman, of Bedford.

Published on November 26, 2012

There was a bit of pushing and shoving but no fisticuffs following the Valley Maple Leafs crashing into the Blazers' net in the second period.

Published on November 26, 2012

Luke Short, second from right, leads his teammates back to the bench following his third period goal.

Published on November 26, 2012

Mitch Culley and Kyle Kavanagh celebrate a job well done as the third period ended and the Leafs defeated Sackville 4-2.

The Valley Maple Leafs are closing in on taking over the top spot in the Fred Fox Division standings after their victory Saturday night.

The Leafs doubled the division-leading Sackville Blazers 4-2 Nov. 24 in Kentville.

The Blazers' Jacob Coyle, assisted by Justin Hessian and Zack Thomas, opened the scoring in the first period just 5:02 in.

Nick MacKenzie, from Luke Short and Josh Crouse, found the back of the net less than a minute and a half later — tying the score.

With about five minutes remaining in the first period, the Leafs' team captain, Nathan Little, bested the Blazers goalie, putting the hometown team up 2-1. The assist went to Mount Uniacke's Jake Galbraith.

Only the Leafs managed to score in the second period. Brooklyn's Brandon Parker, midway through the frame at 10:55, was fed the puck from Jory Uhlman and Dylan Lowthers and scored what would be the game-winning goal.

The Blazers struck once more, at the top of the third period, on the power play. The goal, from team captain Shayne OderKirk, came at 3:58 into the final period and had the Blazers trailing 3-2. Assists went to Shane Boudreau and Matt Munroe.

Short, known for his seamless transitions from defence to offence, scored the last goal of the night halfway through the final frame. Assists went to Crouse and Adriano Digioacchino.

Mitch Culley earned the win in nets for the Leafs, facing 33 shots. Brennan Laite faced 54 shots, stopping 50 of them.

“Sackville didn't have a whole lot of quality chances throughout the game,” said Leafs assistant coach Rob Lindsay. “Mitch has been playing fantastic for us in net, which always gives the boys that extra bit of confidence.”

Lindsay said the team showed a solid effort right from the beginning.

“The boys are just plugging away. They're cycling the puck down low and digging hard in the corners and that's what it takes to win a hockey game; playing deep in their end and getting some pucks on net,” he said in an interview following the game.

“It's a good two points, especially in our division.”

The first period saw 10 minutes of penalties doled out, spread evenly between the Blazers and the Leafs.

The Valley squad had six penalty minutes called in the second period, while the Blazers' Payton Tench received five minutes for kneeing and a 10-minute game misconduct. Captain Little was helped off the ice after being hit and was taken to the hospital with unspecified injuries.

“He's a good kid, probably one of the best D in the league, and it's his last season playing. We need to get him back in the line up. He's an anchor back there.”

Lindsay said the team was hoping Little's injury wasn't season-ending.

Coyle and Lowthers duked it out near the start of the third period, resulting in both players receiving a 10-minute game misconduct and five for fighting. Lowthers also received two minutes for boarding. The Blazers took a hooking penalty a few minutes later.

With 5:46 left on the clock, the Blazers' Aaron MacDonald received a 10-minute game misconduct, and in the last minute of play, the Leafs' Galbraith received two minutes for roughing.

“I think that the boys came together, showed a lot of good character. We had Lowthers stepping up as a first year kid, proving his point he's not scared to mix it up a little bit and stand up for himself,” said Lindsay. “I couldn't be happier with Nick MacKenzie. The guy is kind of the rookie of the year, in my opinion, so far. He came out of nowhere and has been a solid D on my line up.”

As of press time, the Valley Maple Leafs were trailing the Sackville Blazers by just one point for first place in the Fred Fox Division standings. The Blazers, who have played 17 games, have 23 points while the Leafs, who have played 14 games, have a total of 22 points.

“Every point now in the league, in our division, is tight,” said Lindsay.

“Sackville has a couple games in hand so we have an opportunity to make up some points,” he added.

The Leafs have a road game Tuesday, Nov. 27 against the Brookfield Elks, before returning to Kentville to host the East Hants Penguins at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1.

 

Organizations: The Valley Maple Leafs, Valley Maple Leafs, Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League East Hants Penguins Sackville Blazers Brookfield Elks

Geographic location: Kentville, Mount Uniacke, Brooklyn The Valley Hants County Kings County Brookfield Sackville Nova Scotia Canada

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