It’s not the best-case scenario facing the Nelson Leafs, but the Green and White are embracing another shot at the defending Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Champions.Nelson, 18-6-1-1, first in the Murdoch Division, takes a depleted lineup into the Bavarian City to face the Eddie Mountain leading Kimberley Dynamiters as the Junior B Hockey League gears up for another weekend of competition. Nelson is missing no less than six players heading into Friday’s tilts against the Nitros in a showdown between the top two teams in the Kootenay Conference.Missing from the lineup is the top netminder in the KIJHL, Caiden Krietz, defencemen Kalem Hanlon and Alek Erichuk and forwards Brady Miller and Scott Lancaster.Goalie Hunter Young is missing his second game of a two-game suspension picked up in Spokane last week. The result of Young suspension, and Kreitz still on the shelf, forced Nelson to once again call on the services of Kootenay Ice affiliate Tenzin Mint between the pipes against the Nitros.Mint was solid in his last outing with Nelson, posting a 5-0 shutout of Castlegar Rebels. Looking on the bright side, Nelson sees the return of high-scoring forward Scott Campbell, Mitch Lavoie from suspension as well fans get a look at newly-acquired 5’10”, 175-pound forward Cole Wyatt. Wyatt comes to Nelson from West Kelowna Warriors of the BC Hockey League. The Alberta native played 11 games for West Kelowna this season.“(Cole) is a solid offensive threat and a great two-way player,” Leaf GM Lance Morey told the media this week.Morey said Wyatt will be with the Leafs for the remainder of the season.Nelson needs more offence after the departure of Ryan Piva last month to the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In 17 games with Nelson, Piva registered 32 points including 14 goals.Rockies pay visit to Heritage CitySaturday, Nelson is back at home to host Columbia Valley Rockies of the Eddie Mountain Division at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.Nelson will be looking to avenge a loss earlier this season to the Rockies in Invermere.Former Leaf Ben Kelsch stole the show, stopping 39 of 41 shots to edge his former mates 4-2. Nelson peppered Kelsch with 26 shots in the third period.Leafs former goalie is also returning the NDCC Arena after being traded to Columbia Valley last week.
Northwestern State will take on No. 1 seed Stephen F. Austin in the semifinals of the conference tournament tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 p.m. CT. Balanced effort across the board from you guys. Offensively, defensively, you had 12 digs, 12 assist. What’s the difference between this match and the other two against Sam Houston? The Lady Demons were even more impressive defensively in the second set, holding the Bearkats to a -.088 hitting percentage while hitting .200. Northwestern State’s first team all-conference selection senior right-side hitter Mackenzie Neely led offensively with three kills in eight attempts. Senior outside hitter Stacey DiFrancesco led defensively for the Lady Demons with five digs as senior setter Emily Johnson and sophomore libero Bailey Martin combined for another six. Sam Houston State’s freshman outside hitter Brooke White had a set high six digs. “Yes, yes. Offense is a huge part of the game. I think our offense has been very good until a couple of weeks ago. I know we have a setter with a bad back. We have some health issues we don’t talk about a lot. I am being very up front and honest with you. We got about four players out … uh … we just got some injuries that we are struggling through. And I think they are coming to the forefront.” “Our offense was terrible.” Northwestern State captured the first set 25-16 with strong defense, holding Sam Houston State to a -.070 hitting percentage. The Lady Demons hit .167 for the set as redshirt-junior outside hitter Caiti O’Connell led with four kills on six attempts for a .500 hitting percentage. Sophomore setter Natalie Jaeger made a set high eight digs in the opening set for Northwestern State. All told, the Lady Demons hit .198 on the night while holding Sam Houston State to a -.026 hitting percentage. Caiti O’Connell led offensively for Northwestern State with eight total kills on 13 attempts. Natalie Jaeger recorded 12 digs for the Bearkats to lead on defense. Sam Houston States’ Wells-Gibson had a match high 12 kills for the Bearkats, while sophomore libero Claire Kilpatrick tallied a match high 17 digs. “When our middle went down a couple weeks ago, and I did not think that she could get in. Then all of a sudden she gets out here and practices like a crazy lady and this is exactly how I feel you are asking me. I had already turned in my line up and it is kind hard to sub out two people for one. I thought we took too long to get started after that. I think it was our lack of… we just been out of sync for the last couple weeks. And I don’t know what it is. I think that the match could have gone either way at particular times. But for me, I don’t know. I just don’t think my team has played that well the last two weeks. I just don’t know what to say other than that. It is not anything in particular that they did. They played good. But you are asking me to compare the three times we played each other. I don’t know.” Box ScorePhoto GalleryNo. 5 Northwestern State 3, No. 4 Sam Houston State 0NATCHITOCHES, La. – Tournament host and fifth seeded Northwestern State defeated fourth seeded Sam Houston State 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-23) in the Southland Volleyball Tournament Friday evening to wrap up quarterfinal action. The Lady Demons move on to the semifinals for the second year in a row after reaching the championship match a year ago. “Started to turn it around…” Obviously you have played great defense all year long. But did you foresee holding a team like that to a negative three percentage? “Oh, I completely agree. I think tonight all of our hitters were on. I think it just comes down to everyone, you know Caiti, Glynna, Vanessa; everyone was going out their swinging with all they had. And I think that is a big part on why we won this because we were aggressive the entire time against them.” For tournament information, including a link to live stats, go to Southland.org. Semifinal matches of the tournament will be streamed live on the Southland Conference Digital Network.QuotesNorthwestern State Co-Head Coach Hugh Hernesman “We kind of put her on an island defensively. We put her in a position to dig a lot of balls and she did that. When she got the opportunity, she made those digs. That opportunity today for Natalie was to make some big plays and stand out. She is an unsung player in our program. She’s had a big year; she makes good decisions and plays with a lot of intensity.” “I really just think that tonight, we clicked on all facets of our game. Obviously, because it is a conference tournament, everyone comes out with a different mentality to really compete and do whatever it takes to win. And I think tonight, we definitely had that mentality and we were just ready to do whatever it takes to get the victory.” On facing Sam Houston’s Deveney Wells-Gibson The third set, it looked like you turned it around, but obviously… It certainly was a different outcome from when you guys came here (NSU). It was a tough back and forth in the season. From your estimation, what was difference between the meetings from before and tonight? “Each time around we had a good game plan against them. The first time we played them we didn’t execute it at all. The second time we played them, we executed it but struggled offensively which was why we lost. Today, we really came together.” On winning its first match in three tries vs. SHSU this season Northwestern State Setter Natalie Jaeger “I think it definitely was different from when we played them in the past. But I think again, a lot of that is credit to our blockers. Our blockers did a great job. Defensively we left it all out on the floor. And we really executed the system that we out to execute tonight.” Offensively, Caiti O’Connell hitting .462, Glynna was good. Again, kind of the same thing on offense as it was on defense. From your stand point, do you agree or disagree? You touched on a little slow offensively. “I would be remised if I didn’t acknowledge the career that Deveney (Wells-Gibson) has had at Sam Houston. She is probably one of the best this conference has ever seen. We blocked them early and we served really well early.” Sam Houston State Head Coach Brenda Gray A little too late at that point On the play of NSU sophomore Natalie Jaeger In the third set, Northwestern State hit .222 and clinched the match with a 25-3 victory. The Lady Demons continued their defensive presence but Sam Houston State improved its hitting percentage to .081. Mackenzie Neely and Caiti O’connell combined for six kills for Northwestern State, while Bailey Martin contributed four digs. Sam Houston State first team all-conference senior outside hitter Deveney Wells-Gibson had a set high six kills on 10 attempts for the Bearkats.