Goodwin, Pisiak, Pow and Sookro amongst team’s award winners
Nelson — After their run to the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League finals late last
month, the Nelson Leafs have spent the last week with rewards and reflections from their race
to the finals.
The Leafs came within three wins of the league championship, losing four games to one to the
“Aside from Revelstoke, every team in the league would trade their season for the one we had,”
says Leaf’s Assistant Coach Adam DiBella, “we’re very proud of what we accomplished.”
The last time the Leafs made the league finals was in the 2009/10 — when they lost to
Revelstoke in seven games.
Nelson’s path through the playoffs was a wild one. And gruelling. The Leafs played 24 out of a
possible 28 playoffs games between February 22 and March 31.
“It was insane,” laughs DiBella. “It was basically half a season in a month.”
In the first round, the Leafs beat the Castlegar Rebels in seven games after being down three
games to one. The series including a double OT Leafs win in game six.
Nelson got by the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in six games amidst a slew of injuries and
suspensions. The team was missing six of its top nine forwards in middle of the BV series.
DiBella credits Arthur Andrews and Joey St. Onge of Saint Performance and Nelson Sports Lab
with many of those players’ return to playoff duty.
The Leafs then stormed back from two games down to beat the Kimberley Dynamites in six
games, winning four straight and clinching the conference crown.
They lost to the Grizzlies in game five following a heartbreaking triple OT loss in game four, at
“We helped galvanize the community through the end of the pandemic,” said Leafs head coach
Mario DiBella in his farewell address at the Leafs Awards Banquet. DiBella has been the Leafs
head coach for 7 seasons.
“And not just our own city,” says his son Adam. “We felt the entire West Kootenay rallied behind
The night’s award winners included Lane Goodwin, named the season’s MVP.
“Lane is committed at both ends of the ice,” says the younger DiBella, “and he’s a big voice in
the room. His character and leadership shone through as the season progressed.”
Goodwin suffered a suffered an injury in the second round that might have taken as long as two
months to recover from, but the gritty forward was back in three weeks. Goodwin made his
return to the lineup for a series clinching game 6 win over Kimberley.
Captain Tyler Pisiak was named the Leafs’ Top Playoff Performer and Unsung Hero.
“Whatever we needed in the payoffs, Tyler gave us,” says DiBella, noting the 20-year old’s
double overtime winner versus Castlegar and his hat trick against Kimberley in game five.
The Leafs have seen playoff success over the past decade or more, winning the league
championship in 2008/09 and losing the conference championship to Kimberley in 2017/18.
DiBella says Nelson has had potential championship teams through the last two pandemic-
“It was great to see our older players get the chance to play out a full season for the first time in
three years, because last three season we’ve had championship calibre teams.”
Goodwin, Pisak, and local players Tenzin Mint, Reid Vulcano and Joe Davidson have all been
with the Leafs for the past three years.
As for next year, the Leafs are expecting most of their age-eligible players (those under 20) to
“All we want to do next season,” says DiBella, “is win three more games in the playoffs than we
did this year. That’s our goal.”
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Nelson Leafs 2021/22 Awards
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
MOST SPIRITED MAPLE LEAF
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
SCHOLASTIC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
MOST POPULAR PLAYER