Beaver Valley Nitehawks face Rebels tonight

The KIJHL Murdoch Division’s compete level is ramping up in the preseason

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks will face a much tougher road to the Murdoch Division title if the results from their exhibition series on the weekend is any indication.

The Nitehawks bounced back from a 4-1 loss to Grand Forks Border Bruins on Wednesday, with a 4-2 victory at home against the Nelson Leafs on Thursday where the Hawks August Demare scored a pair of goals including the winner.

However, the Leafs followed that up with a 5-1 drubbing of the Hawks Friday in Nelson. Then B.V. travelled to Grand Forks on Saturday where they battled to a scoreless tie against the Bruins with the goaltenders stopping 29 and 28 shots respectively.

On Sunday, B.V. went into Castlegar and suffered a 2-1 setback to the Rebels.

The 1-3-1 record isn’t a concern for the Nitehawks coaching staff, which is carrying an excess of players through the six-game exhibition season. However, teams like Castlegar and Nelson are vigorously rebuilding in an effort to compete against a Hawks team that has won the Murdoch division title three years in a row.

The Leafs filled arguably the most important position with veteran goalie Josh Williams, 19, who played last season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and posted a 2.42 goals-against average.

The Leafs also acquired six-foot-one defenceman Jordan Popoff, 18, from the North Okanagan Knights for futures. Popoff had two assists in 35 games last season for the Knights.

The Rebels, meanwhile, have been one of the most active team in the KIJHL with head coach and GM Bill Rotheisler intent on icing a championship team.

The Rebels have retooled their head office with the addition of a new assistant GM and analyst Parker Hickey, signed veteran forward Chris Breese, defenceman Cordell Boyko, and newcomers Tanner Costa, Reid Wilson and Matthew Cooper from the BC Major Midget Kootenay Ice.

Breese is a six-foot-two, 20-year-old forward who scored 25 goals and 64 points in the 2015-16 season with the Rebels and rounds out Castlegar’s 20-year-old contingent that includes veterans John Moeller, Ed Lindsey, Vince Bitoni, and Chance Szott.

Edmonton native Boyko was acquired from the Golden Rockets last month for futures, and is a five-foot-10 mobile defenceman.

The Rebels face the Nitehawks tonight at the Beaver Valley Arena at 7 p.m.

B.V. opens the regular season against the Leafs on Friday in Nelson, and host the Fernie Ghostriders on Saturday for their home opener at 7:30 p.m.

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