It wasn’t pretty, but the Beaver Valley Nitehawks managed a come-from-behind road win in Creston against the ThunderCats on Tuesday.
The Hawks stormed back from a 4-2 first-period deficit to beat the Cats 6-4 in Kootenay International Hockey League action to keep them in striking distance of the Neil Murdoch division leading Nelson Leafs, their opponent on Friday.
“It was a slow start, but the guys kept on working and things finally started to go their way,” said Nitehawk assistant coach Jeremy Cominotto.
Michael Bell scored the game-winning goal, his sixth of the season, with just over five minutes to go in the third period, converting a pass from Taylor Stafford, who would net his second of the night and the insurance marker 17 seconds later.
The Hawks and ThunderCats erupted for six goals in a six-minute span in the first period, with the Cats’ Brandon Formosa opening the scoring on the power play beating Hawk starter Josh Round at 12:39.
However Dallas Calvin finished a nice passing play from Mitch Foyle and Archie McKinnon to tie it 49 seconds later. Colby Livingstone would reply for the Cats, but versatile defenceman Fraser Stang tied it at 2-2 on a Foyle and Calvin set up.
But 15 seconds later Connor Kidd netted his third of the season, chasing Round from the net in favour of AP Carson Schamerhorn, who was rudely welcomed by Livingstone as he sniped his second of the period a minute later to make it 4-2.
However, Schamerhorn, the Kootenay Major Midget Ice goalie, closed the door after that and stopped 23 of 24 shots to record his first win as a Nitehawk.
With an injury to starting goalie Brett Clark and Schamerhorn on temporary duty, the Hawks were looking to bring in another goalie. As a result, Grayson Sharpe, an Okotoks native who played three games with the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, will join the team this weekend. In three games with the Canucks, the six-foot-one 17-year-old goaltender posted a 3.44 Goals against average and a .907 save percentage.
“He’s suppose to be a pretty good goalie,” said Cominotto. “We’re excited to see him play and see what he can do. Ultimately, we’d like to do what we did a couple years ago and be able to rotate back and forth. For a long season and a long playoff run, it’s way more beneficial.”
The teams would settle down in the second with the only goal coming off the stick of Stafford at 3:30. Calvin notched his second goal of the game at 10:40 of the third period to tie it, before Bell would seal it with the winner. Calvin had a four-point night, and has four goals and four assists since returning to the Hawks lineup last Friday, while Stafford scored twice and added an assist.
McKinnon was also impressive on the back end and up front on the power play. The Nitehawk captain added two assists and has four points in four games since coming off an injury last week.
“Archie just makes simple plays, he’s always moving his feet, and has a work ethic that is pretty hard to beat. That’s why he’s our captain. He’s got the work ethic and he leads by example, not just by word of mouth, and guys respect him for it.”
Beaver Valley will face two more difficult tests when they travel to Nelson to face the Leafs Friday, and return home for a 1 p.m. Sunday match up against Eddie Mountain division leading Kimberley Dynamiters at 7-2-1-0.
The Hawks lost to the Leafs 5-2 last Friday and look to turn the tables this week.
“The guys battled,” said Cominotto. “You know we found ourselves in a hole, down 2-0 but we were able to battle back and get back in the game. A couple bad breaks and a couple bad bounces we found ourselves in another hole, but it wasn’t due to lack of effort by any means.”
“We’re happy with our lineup obviously, but the ultimate goal is to get to the Cyclone Taylor and win a championship, so whenever we get an opportunity to make our lineup better we’re going to,” said Cominotto. “Ultimately, we have to come out of our league and that’s the only way we’re going to get to the Cyclone Taylor.”
This weekend is a preview of potential playoff action and an indication of how close the Nitehawks are to contending.