After falling 1-0 to the Nelson Leafs in Nelson on Friday, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks’ offence came alive on Saturday with a decisive 6-0 drubbing of the Fernie Ghostriders in the Hawks’ home opener.
“Our effort last night was really good and our effort tonight was really good, we just found the back of the net tonight,” said Beaver Valley assistant coach Jeremy Cominotto following Saturday’s match.
Beaver Valley went 4-for-5 on the power play in Saturday’s dominating performance that saw Jaxen Gemmell net his first hat trick, Owen Sikkes earn his first shut out, and Dylan Heppler ring up his first six-point game in the KIJHL with two goals and four assists.
The line of Gemmell, Heppler, and rookie Aiden Jenner combined for 11-points to kick start a Hawks’ offence that was shut out on Friday.
“Terry (Jones) put that line together last night (Friday) near the end of the game and it seemed to click, and so we thought let’s just put them together and see what happens,” said Cominotto.
The Nitehawks tallied what proved to be the winning goal, when Sam Swanson made a good play to keep the puck in the Fernie zone, and dished to Heppler, who fired a low shot past Ghostrider goalie Brandon Youngson at the 4:47 mark.
The Hawks held a slight 12-11 edge in shots, but solid play by Nitehawks goalie Sikkes kept the Ghostriders off the score sheet.
The Hawks power play started to roll in the second frame when Evan Gorman scored on a blast from the point with assists to Gemmell and Heppler for a 2-0 lead just three minutes in. The score stayed that way until the third, when Heppler wheeled behind the Fernie goal and passed out front to Gemmell at the side of the net who lifted it over Youngson for a 3-0 lead at 18:09.
“It’s awesome playing with Heppler,” said Gemmell. “I didn’t get a chance to play with him last year, but everyone raved about how good he was, and this new Aiden Jenner kid he’s unbelievable to play with. As a 16-year-old, he’s going to be good this year for us.”
At 16:23, McCarthy Manyfingers dealt Blake Sidoni a hit from behind, earning him five for fighting, a game misconduct, two for instigator and two for head contact, while Sidoni went off for a two-minute roughing penalty. The resulting seven-minute power play sunk the Ghostriders, as Gemmell banged in a rebound for his second of the night, and Heppler flipped a Sidoni pass over a sprawling Youngson just 14 seconds later to make it 5-0 and chase the Fernie netminder.
Gemmell completed the hat trick at 10:08 with a nifty deflection on a Connor Seib point shot for the 6-0 final.
“That was my first hat trick, and my first goal of the year too, so pretty exciting stuff,” said Gemmell.
The second-year Nitehawk and Calgary native added that while B.V. played well in the 1-0 defeat in Nelson, the difference was execution on Saturday.
“I think we really bore down on our chances mostly. Last night we did have a lot of chances that we just couldn’t finish on, but tonight we really came through and buried every chance we got.”
B.V. outshot Fernie 40-21, with Youngson facing 32 shots in the Fernie net, before ceding the net to Zak Larson who stopped eight-of-nine shots.
The victory was a good response to Friday’s loss, especially for a Nitehawks team that iced just nine forwards and four defencemen on the weekend. The team was also bolstered by the return of forward Sidoni from the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials earlier this week, who played the point along with regular forwards Sam Swanson and Nolan Percival.
On Friday, B.V. outshot the Leafs 38-26 but couldn’t beat 20-year-old goalie Josh Williams who played for three different teams in the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season.
“Last night (Friday) we ran into a little bit of a hot goalie and we didn’t exactly capitalize on a lot of our chances,” said Cominotto. “Tonight we did a better job of getting to the net and we got a couple rebound goals … But having these guys (forwards) on the point, they really know how to slow the game down and make smooth passes, so it allows us to have a good entry and set our power play up.”
The Nitehawks host the Neil Murdoch division’s Kimberley Dynamiters on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and the Columbia Valley Rockies on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Hawks Nest.