The Beaver Valley Nitehawks refused to go quietly in Game 4 of the Kootenay Conference final, skating to a hard fought 2-1 victory over the Kimberley Dynamiters on Saturday at the Hawks Nest.
Following a pair of devastating losses and on the verge of elimination, the Nitehawks put together one of their best efforts of the season to force Game 5 in Kimberley on Monday.
“That’s as close to 60 minutes we’ve played in this series,” said Nitehawks coach and GM Terry Jones. “From the beginning right to the very end, we had one lapse when we gave up the goal, but generally we didn’t give up a lot tonight and that’s a good sign for us.”
Nitehawks forward Blake Sidoni tallied the winning goal on a power play at 6:55 of the middle frame. With Eric Buckley in the box for boarding, Dylan Heppler one-timed a pass from Tyler Hartman, and Sidoni redirected it over Dynamiters’ goalie Tyson Brouwer to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead.
“I was in the corner and just went to the net, came out and put it in,” said Sidoni, a Trail native. “It was a full 60 minutes of resilience. Everyone on the team was competing; there wasn’t one guy that wasn’t working hard out there.”
Following a scoreless first period in which the Nitehawks were outshot 14-7, B.V. gained momentum after killing off six straight minutes in penalties in the second half of the period. The Hawks then went on the power play after Tanner Wit was called for hooking late in the first. As the penalty carried over into the middle frame, 15 seconds after the puck drop, Dylan Heppler broke down the right side and slid the puck past Brouwer for a 1-0 lead.
The Nitehawks played tight defensive hockey, rarely giving up an odd-man rush or allowing the Nitros close-in chances, and when they did, Tallon Kramer came up with timely saves throughout the game.
“I didn’t have to do near as much as the last couple ones, it was a lot nicer,” said Kramer. “But we have to do the same thing, play a full 60, we have to have tight D, and hang on.”
In Games 2 and 3, the Hawks had 2-0 and 3-2 leads late in the third before the Nitros came back to win both matches in the final minute on goals Kramer had little chance on. Saturday’s Game 4 was a character builder for a Hawks team desperate for a win.
“It’s really tough, you go home and you hang your head for hours on end, and you come back and you have to restart there’s nothing else you can do,” said Kramer.
For a moment it looked as though Kimberley might repeat the last-minute-heroics scenario for a third game in a row when Jared Marchi shot in the slot deflected past Kramer with 4:50 remaining in the third, but the Nitehawks stymied the Kimberley attack allowing the Dynamiters just six shots in the third period, and few looks in the final minutes.
“Initially you’re upset with the fact that I didn’t think we played very well tonight, but you move on you’re not going to win them all,” said Kimberley coach Gerry Bancks. “That’s a good hockey team and well coached and they played well tonight and they deserved to win. You have to make sure you get yourself ready for the next one, and be happy you are up 3-1.”
The Hawks had the best chances in the third when Sam Swanson forced a turnover and Kyle Hope picked up the loose puck all alone in front but wired it just over the cross bar. Minutes later, Brouwer made two great pad saves off a Swanson and Hope 2-on-1 to keep the game close. Hard work on the fore-check and back-check, and physical and responsible zone play from the back end paid off as Kimberley had a difficult time generating any offence in the period.
“I thought we did that in Games 2 and 3 for the most part, but we just broke down,” said Jones. “They are very good off the rush, their D jump in the play, and if we’re not going to back check and get ourself in good position it’s tough, so we made some adjustments with that, but by and large it just comes down to competing and I think we did that tonight.”
The Nitehawks outshot Kimberley 28-27, and went 2-for-4 on the power play while their penalty kill was a perfect 0-for-5.
The Nitehawks travel to Kimberley for Game 5 on Monday at 7 p.m. A Hawks win will bring Game 6 to the Hawks Nest on Tuesday with a 7 p.m. puck drop.