After a spirited late season run, the Valley Maple Leafs fell short of making the 2018-19 Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League playoffs.
This is the first time since the Leafs’ inception in 2012-13 that the Windsor-based team has not made the playoffs.
The Leafs even captured the Don Johnson Cup in 2015-16, the crowning achievement for Junior B hockey players in Atlantic Canada.
The Leafs had multiple struggles during the 2018-19 season, which included injuries to key players and the lack of a No. 1 goaltender until Christmastime.
In January, it appeared the Leafs had discovered a renewed momentum, and with outstanding goaltending from Blake Meech, they put together a four-game winning streak that had them breathing down Cole Harbour’s neck. It looked like a playoff position would still happen. That all ended in Windsor Feb. 8 as the Leafs dropped a 5-2 decision to the Sackville Blazers while Cole Harbour nosed out the Liverpool Privateers 2-1 to place the Colts seven points ahead of the Leafs. With only three games remaining in their regular schedule, there is no way for the Leafs to make up the necessary points.
During the Feb. 8 match, the Leafs’ Ian Drysdale put the Valley up 1-0 in the first period but Sackville came back to tie it before the period concluded, and then added two more in the second period.
The Leafs outshot the Blazers 44-36, including 16-11 in the opening 20 minutes, but had trouble finding the back of the net.
In the third period, Sackville made it 4-1 before Carter Davidson brought the Leafs back to within a pair at 4-2. With only three seconds showing on the clock, the Blazers scored into an empty net to make the final 5-2. With the victory, the Blazers swept the season series from the Leafs, winning all four games and outscoring them 25-9 in the process.
The Leafs are scheduled to play in East Hants Feb. 15 and conclude their regular season Feb. 22 at home against Cole Harbour.