The Beaver Valley Nitehawks won their ninth game in a row and took over sole possession of first place in the Neil Murdoch division for the first time this season with a convincing 6-2 victory over the Nelson Leafs Sunday at the Beaver Valley Arena.
While the Leafs still have a game in hand, the Nitehawks have been unbeatable of late sweeping a pair of games over the Castlegar Rebels 6-4 Friday and 8-4 Saturday before facing the Leafs. Since their last loss on December 6 versus Spokane, they have outscored the opposition 48-16, giving them the best goal differential, plus-61, and goals against, 95, in the KIJHL.
Hawks’ forward Russell Mortlock would net the winner when he broke in on the right side and rifled a shot over the glove of Nelson goalie Brad Rebagliati to put B.V. up 3-1 at 11:23 of the second period.
The Hawks Braden Fuller tipped in an Archie McKinnon point blast to open the scoring at 8:07, but Carson Willans would even it with just over two minutes to play. The Hawks outshot the Leafs 12-7 in the first period but remained deadlocked at 1-1 after one.
However, B.V. would dominate in the second period peppering Rebagliati with 22 shots, and despite some highlight-reel saves the Hawks would solve the Cranbrook native when McKinnon used Riley Brandt as a screen and blasted a low shot past the Leafs goalie to go up 2-1 five minutes in.
After Mortlock made it 3-1, Brandt feathered a perfect pass by the defender sending in Mitch Foyle all alone on the Leafs goalie and the Fruitvale native made no mistake going backhand, forehand before wristing under Rebagliati’s arm to put the Hawks up by three.
Nelson seemed deflated and frustrated in the third. A sloppy play in their own end on the power play led to the Hawks fifth goal, a shorthanded marker by Dallas Calvin. The Leafs defender gift wrapped the puck for Taylor Stafford’s behind the net and Stafford quickly backhanded it to a wide open Calvin in front of the net, who fired it into the open side.
The Leafs would finally get one on the power play when Robson Cramer beat Clark at 8:30 of the third but Fuller would score his second of the night at 4:59 to put the game on ice, and blow the Leafs out of top spot.
The Hawks-Leafs meet again tonight at the Nelson District Rec Complex at 7 p.m.