All season Jackson’s Hole remained quietly close to the top of the Nelson Mixed Slopitch League. However, when playoff time came around the eventual champs put the gear in overdrive to capture its 15th Nelson Mixed Slopitch League title in the past 19 years Sunday at the Lakeside Ball Diamonds.Jackson’s built up a 13-0 lead en route to a 13-3 victory over Louie’s in the A-division final.Staff and management at Mallard’s Source for Sports needed all but a few seconds to select this week’s Team of the Week winner. Jackson’s Hole team includes, back row, L-R, Justin Willans, Kent Smith, Mick Roch, Jackson Slomba and Jarred Slomba.Middle, Al Faraguna, Melanie Faraguna, Michelle Lelievre, Rachael Stewart, Luree Gould, Rob Chernenko, and coach Joe Caprilione and Tanis Bouchier- Willans. Front, Abby Bouchier- Willans, Hayley Slomba, Andrew Falcone, Cole Laughton and Mike Laughton. Missing, Lorne Wuori, Vanessa Sapatch, Jayden Roch and Adam Wheeldon.
The other contest ended in a rare tie.“These are two fairly even teams,” Maida confessed. “We have a great rivalry against Castlegar and our boys really look forward to playing every time we play them.”Friday, two goals in less than two minutes was the difference as Nelson edged Castlegar 3-0.The goals, by Matthew Naka and Colton McCarthy, came early in the third period.Jacob Boyczuk scored an insurance marker into the empty net.Nelson started both contests with only five defenceman due to injury bug that has hampered the blueline — one of the rearguards being converted forward Linden Horswill.And for the second game Nelson finished the game with only four D-men.“I’m looking forward to getting healthy on the blueline and see where we’re at,” Maida said. “So far I’ve been very pleased with our how the defence and goaltending is playing.”The Leafs have a full week of practice before resuming play Friday with a home doubleheader.North Okanagan Kings open the two-game set before Grand Forks Border Bruins pay a visit to the NDCC Arena Saturday.Both puck drops are at 7 p.m.Sunday Nelson makes its first visit to Spokane to face the Braves in an afternoon tilt.Castlegar has a short week before traveling to Grand Forks Thursday.ICE CHIP: Nelson defencemen Cam Weir and Cole Arcuri watched both games and are listed as day-to-day . . .. Rookie forward Damin Devlin also is on the sidelines after serving two of his three game suspension for removing his helmet during a fight against Chase Heat, October 7. . . .KIJHL teams have been experiencing problems with league website. The site was down Saturday which made it impossible for Castlegar executive to post the game stats to the website. KIJHL webmaster Harold Hazelaar said the problem is due to an issue with the website host which the league has no control over. The Castlegar Rebels rebounded from a heart-breaking road loss in a big way, stopping the Leafs cold Saturday night at the Complex.Brenden Heinrich scored midway through the second period and goalie Jordan Gluck continued his home dominance over the West Kootenay rivals sparking the Rebels to a 1-0 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League victory in Castlegar.It was the second time in as many games Gluck has shutout the Leafs — both by 1-0 scores.The win moves the Rebels back into top spot in the Murdoch Division standings, one point ahead of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and two in front of the Leafs.Castlegar has played two more games than Beaver Valley.Kamloops Storm edged the Hawks 2-1 Saturday in Fruitvale.“I thought we out played them and out chanced them, (Rebel goalie Jordan) Gluck just made some big saves and key times,” said Leaf coach Frank Maida.“We just didn’t seem to have our puck luck tonight,” Maida added.“Thirty-seconds after they scored we hit the post then had a late power play but Gluck made some key saves for them.”The game was the second one-goal contest in the season series between the two Murdoch rivals and third time the match-up ended with a shutout.
Nelson has lost five straight and 12 of 14 games dating back to October 31.In other words, November was a nightmare of the worst kind.And December hasn’t started out much better with four consecutive defeats.And the upcoming schedule isn’t very kind to the Leafs — in Fruitvale Friday to face the Murdoch Division-leading Nitehawks before returning home Saturday against the Osoyoos Coyotes, who just happen to lead the Okanagan Division with a 21-5-0-0-1 record.Revolving door keeps revolvingAs with any losing team there are changes.The latest to be shown the door are forwards Brendan Smith and Nick Novin.McLellan wouldn’t get into specifics, saying there were “off-ice issues” that led to the departure of the two players.Also sent packing was forward Tyler Garcia, traded, McLellan said, to a junior team in the United States.Leafs captain, Rayce Miller, is also not with the Leafs at this time.However, Miller is back home in Arizona to nurse a bad back that has been plaguing the former 27-goal scorer for most of the season.Injuries continue to haunt the LeafsMcLellan said his club is starting to see some players return to the lineup.Back on defence is Dash Thompson along with Andy Fitzpatrick on the forward line — both have been sorely missed in the lineup.However, defenceman Max Daerendinger and forward Austin Lindsay remain on the IR with Lindsay back home seeing a specialist for an injury that happened against Summerland Steam. Ever have one of those days when you wake up, get out of bed and kick the bedpost with your foot?Then bang your head into the door to the bathroom you thought was open.Walking into the kitchen you trip over the cat and drive your knee into the kitchen cabinet.When you get to work the boss gives you an ear full even before the first cup of coffee is finished.Now multiply that feeling ten-fold and you have a clear indication what life is like inside the Nelson Leafs dressing room.What could go wrong is going wrong as the once-mighty, and proud, Heritage City franchise.“Internally, we’re fine,” confessed Nelson Leafs coach and GM Dave McLellan when asked about the mood of the club.“It’s a old cliché, but I thought we were the better team the other night (in Grand Forks). We just had an untimely goal that hurt us.”“We need to get healthier,” McLellan added. “We’ve got guys coming off the shelf . . . we’ve got new guys in the lineup that don’t know our system who cost us a goal.”For those keeping score at home Nelson watched a 3-1 lead vanish faster than the lear jet in a David Copperfield magic show to Grand Forks in a 4-3 loss to the Border Bruins.What’s worse is the Leafs, which have toyed with the Bruins for years, are now on the other end of the Yo-Yo.The woes of the Green and White have been well documented.
Liam Fraser and Kyle Strohmann combined for 40 points to lead the Grand Forks Wolves to a 65-53 victory over Stanley Humphries Rockers of Castlegar in the final of the Bomber Junior Boy’s Invitational Saturday at the L.V. Rogers Hangar.Strohman, playing most of the game in foul trouble, finished with a game-high 23 points while Fraser, lights out from behind the three-point line, had 17 including five threes.
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE, QUEEN OF THE SAND, WINNER: “I knew I had a lot of horse but it was all about getting through at the top of the lane. Luckily, I had a lucky break, was able to hustle my way out of there, got through and had a run. At the wire I knew I had it. Down the lane I saw Fanticola and knew she was fighting on, but I went left handed at the last second and got up there.”TYLER BAZE, THREE HEARTS, THIRD: “I didn’t have anywhere to go. Mario (Gutierrez on Tangelo) laid on me the whole race and never really gave my horse a shot to run. He had no horse. He was all over me from the time the gates opened. By the time I could get her out to run, it was too late.“She doesn’t really have a fast turn of foot but she’s real honest. She’s tries, she’s a really nice horse. She ran hard. For that horse to be all over the top of her, the whole race, she’s a nice mare.”TRAINER QUOTES PADDY GALLAGHER, QUEEN OF THE SAND, WINNER: “I was a little concerned with the pace, and she did have some trouble in the race in upper stretch, but Drayden (Van Dyke) had talked to Mike (Smith) who had been riding her, but was out of town today, and he helped Drayden with some advice.“She had been training well and her last race helped her, I think. We’d look at the Gamely for her next race (Grade I, $300,000, 1 1/8 miles on turf, May 25).” JOCKEY QUOTES NOTES: Winning owner Derrick Fischer is from Manhattan Beach.-30-
SHERMAN RECEIVES DORTMUND FROM KALEEM SHAHThe New Year began with surprising but welcome news for trainers Art Sherman and Doug O’Neill, recipients of some blueblood Thoroughbreds from owner/breeder Kaleem Shah, who moved his 13 horses from Bob Baffert, giving six to Sherman and seven to O’Neill.In an email, Baffert said he and Shah “have ended their business relationship.”Among those given to Sherman were 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund and Triple Crown hopeful Klimt, winner of the Grade I Del Mar Futurity this past September. Among those sent to O’Neill were three-year-old maiden winner Iliad, a son of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, and American Gal, third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.“It was a big surprise for me,” said Sherman, who will send out 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome for his final race in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park. After that, it’s off to stud for the popular California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit who turned six today, so Dortmund could prove a fortuitous acquisition.“I only met Mr. Shah one time. He was very cordial and a very nice man,” Sherman said. “It came out of the blue. I’ve never had a client like him with so much money.”Sherman will ship California Chrome to Florida from Ontario Airport at 2 a.m. on Jan. 6. Sherman plans to leave Jan.19.“The horse is doing unbelievably good,” Sherman said.Said Doug O’Neill: “We’re so excited, blessed and grateful. We’re looking forward to being a part of Team Shah.”Added Doug’s brother, Dennis: “We were sitting in our suite at Santa Anita when we got the news. We were extremely surprised.” NAKATANI RETURNS TO SANTA ANITA A WINNERCorey Nakatani is back.Now 46, the native of Covina has returned to Santa Anita, site of some of his greatest triumphs, looking fresh, fit, and if the front-running win in Saturday’s second race on first-time starter Gogoula at 8-1 for trainer George Papaprodromou is any indication, formidable as well.For good measure, Nakatani won the fourth race, the $100,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes, aboard the Richard Baltas-trained Goodyearforroses.“I’m happy to be home,” said Nakatani, looking like he just sipped from the Fountain of Youth. “California is where I was born (in Covina), this is where I started racing (in 1988) and Santa Anita’s always had a special place in my heart. I was leading rider here (in 1995-96 and 1999-2000) and won so many stakes races (132, placing him eighth all-time at Santa Anita).”Nakatani was the leading apprentice rider in Southern California in 1989, topping the nation in earnings among ‘bug’ boys with $2.3 million. His victory on Goodyearforroses gave him 1,035 at Santa Anita, ninth on the track’s all-time list.“I’ve got my weight down to 118 pounds and I’m working out with Becky (Touber) at Sierra Fitness in Sierra Madre. I train sometimes two days a week and I need to lose about five pounds of muscle weight, which is a lot harder to lose. I’ve got to get back into the grind and do what I do best, which is riding horses.“So we started to do interval training two and three times a day. Becky came up with a regimen and it’s worked, but it’s not over yet. I’m just doing what I do best and enjoying it now that we’re healthy again. Everything’s fine now.”Nakatani overcame walking pneumonia after a recent stint at Oaklawn Park.“I’m going to get my weight down to 114, which would be perfect,” he said. “Then I could tack 17, 18 (pounds) every day. My training regimen is very similar to what Laffit (Pincay Jr.) had with Becky.”Corey’s agent is his son, Matt, who graduated from the University of Louisville two years ago and is mature beyond his 24 years. When Gogoula won, it marked his first win as an agent.“I studied sports management and communications,” Matt said, “and I planned to go to law school from there to be an NFL sports agent, but when the opportunity came for me to represent my father, I couldn’t turn it down. It was something I always wanted to do. I always loved following the horses. I think I’ve watched every race of my Dad’s for the past 10 years.“I follow the horses pretty heavily; my whole family’s involved. My Mom (Michele) is a trainer, my Aunt (Aimee) trains for Graham Motion, my grandfather (the late Wally Dollase) was a trainer and my uncle Craig is a trainer, so it’s always been in my blood from Day One.“I’ve always wanted to do it but never knew if I would get the opportunity. When my Dad stepped away for a little while, I knew I was going to be the key to getting him back, so I’ve been on him for months.“It took time, but when I said we should do this as a team, we’re here for each other and we have each other’s backs, ultimately, I got him to return.” FINISH LINES: Phil D’Amato, trainer of new San Pasqual morning line favorite at 2-5 Midnight Storm with the scratch of Arrogate: “I would think we’re going to be on the pace or right there. Acceptance has some tactical speed, but my guy’s ready to go.” . . . Team O’Neill plans to pass the Sham Stakes against males and run romping Delta Princess victor Shane’s Girlfriend against monster maiden winner Unique Bella and other three-year-old fillies in next Sunday’s Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes at seven furlongs . . . Victor Espinoza will ride Perfectly Majestic in quest of the gelding’s first stakes victory in Saturday’s Grade II San Gabriel Stakes scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on turf. Mike Smith has the assignment on Twentytwentyvision for Richard Mandella, who has Flavien Prat engaged for Chilean import Paquita Coqueta in Saturday’s Grade III Las Cienegas Stakes set for about 6 ½ furlongs on turf . . . Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Tuesday through Thursday. Live racing resumes Friday, Jan. 6, at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m. . . . Players wishing to gain a seat in the 2017 National Handicapping Championship Challenge in Las Vegas Jan. 7 or get a head start in the 2018 event can buy in to Santa Anita’s Players Choice contest for $500. The top five finishers in the Players Choice competition will have their pick of a 2017 or 2018 NHC Challenge entry. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top four Players Choice finishers: $10,000, $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000. For further information, visit santaanita.com/contest. NEW YEAR OFF TO A WINNING START FOR NAKATANISHAH TURNS HIS HORSES OVER TO SHERMAN, O’NEILLSHANE’S GIRLFRIEND TO RUN IN SANTA YNEZ STAKES