DiBella & Company begin challenge to right the Good Ship Leaf

first_imgMario DiBella could not idly stand by to watch the Good Ship Leaf, now taking on water in Biblical-like form, sink like a rock.So the former Leaf coach decided to step forward when Leaf brass decided to find a new coaching staff for the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League franchise.“I felt I had an obligation being an alumni to help right the ship,” DiBella said Tuesday after getting the players back for the first practice since the Christmas break.Now DiBella, and assistant coaches Sean Dooley and Isaac Macleod, will attempt to begin the healing process when the Nelson Leafs face Murdoch Division leading Beaver Valley Nitehawks in a home-and-home series beginning Wednesday in Fruitvale.“We tried to just focus on bringing a positive attitude . . . there was a lot of negativity on this team for whatever reason,” DiBella said when asked about his first order of business.“We want to simply return to making it fun again for the players and looking to better the results (Leafs) we’re getting.”DiBella, with years of coaching experience, has been busy since taking over the head coaching position from Dave McLellan, who resigned his post prior to the Leafs final game before the holiday break.The Leafs executive at the same time also parted ways with assistant coach Greg Andrusak.After assembling the coaching staff, that includes two grads from the Leaf program in Dooley and Macleod, DiBella spent the holidays speaking to every player on the team.“I told them this was a new season and we wanted to push hard for the rest of the regular season and playoffs,” DiBella said. “I think this is a better team than what they’ve shown in most of those games,” DiBella added. “So we’re looking to have a great run from here and play the role of spoilers come playoffs.”DiBella & Company has little left in the arsenal in regards to finding new players. The former coaching staff burned through player cards faster than a hot knife through butter, leaving the Leafs with only two cards available to improve the club by the way of trades or Junior A cuts.So what’s the current coach going to do before January 10-roster deadline?“We’re definitely going to do something,” DiBella said, adding the first priority is to better the club.“We’re short on the forward line but as it stands, we’re going to find the best players regardless of position.”Nelson, 14-19-0-0-1, trails division leading Beaver Valley — the Hawks already have clinched a playoff spot — by 22 points in the Murdoch standings.Nelson sent center Nick Novin to the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League during the holidays.Novin had been released by the current regime.The Leafs practiced again Tuesday before heading to Fruitvale Wednesday.The teams conclude the home-and-home set Thursday afternoon in the annual New Year’s Eve clash at the NDCC Arena.Game time is 2:30 p.m.That’s when hockey fans will see if the coaching shake-up before Christmas makes a difference to the Green and White.last_img

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