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Leafs land division honours, look for big crowds, for first round versus Castlegar Rebels

Nelson — The coach of the Nelson Leafs says speed, work ethic and a rowdy seventh man will
be the keys to a Leafs first round playoff series win over the Castlegar Rebels.

The series starts with back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday night at the Nelson
Community Complex.

Leafs assistant coach Adam DiBella says he expects tight tilts agains the Rebels, due to the
strong play of Castlegar goalie Ethan Lawczynski.

“We have to make life tough on him,” says DiBella, “with multiple layered screens, and we’ll have
to fire a lot of pucks at him.”

The Leafs have seven wins and three losses against the Rebels this season — with Castlegar
having ended the Leafs 11-game winning streak a few weeks ago.

Coach Mario Dibella says the Leafs are heading into the playoffs physical and mentally fit.

“We just need to stay on point and focus on what it is that makes us successful,” says DiBella.
“Keep it simple. That’s when we've seen the results we want.”

With capacity restrictions lifted, but vaccine card and masks still required, the crowd could play a
big role in the Leafs playoff run, as they did last Friday when the team notched a come-from-
behind win over the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.

Nelson was down by two goals when rookie d-man Dylan Mowery — whose father Shandy and
grandfather Leroy both played for the Leafs in their day — notched his first ever KIJHL goal.

“And then the crowd really got us back into it,” said DiBella. “They were our seventh man.”

Having finished the regular season in first place, 22 points ahead of the Nitehawks — who’ll play
the Creston Valley Thunder Cats in the other playoff tilt — the Leafs have landed a raft of regular
season honours.

Dylan Marshall has been named the Neil Murdoch division Goalie Of The Year.

Defenceman Tyson Lautard is Sportsmanlike Player Of The Year.

 

Defenceman Bryce Sookro has been named the division’s Defenceman Of The Year, and Rookie
Of The Year as well.

“I’m really proud of how far those players have come. They’re disciplined individuals and have
shown a lot of will to get to where they are,” says Coach DiBella, who was himself honoured, as
the Neil Murdoch Coach Of The Year.

DiBella has announced his retirement at the end of this season.

“I’m humbled by the recognition of the other coaches in the division,” says DiBella, who has
coached for seven seasons. “We’ve got some great coaches, so to be singled out is a big
honour.”

His son Adam, agrees.

“I think he could have been coach of the year a number of seasons. But it’s really nice for him —
and nice for the organization to get that level of respect.”