Desperate Spokane Braves face Beaver Valley Nitehawks

B.V. Nitehawks host a Spokane Braves team making a final push for Murdoch Division playoff spot

A lot was decided in KIJHL action on the weekend, as the Beaver Valley Nitehawks split their games against the Columbia Valley Rockies and the Grand Forks Border Bruins on the weekend.

The Nelson Leafs clinched the Neil Murdoch Division title with a 3-2 win over the Border Bruins on Friday, but the Bruins bounced back on Saturday with a 6-2 home victory over the Nitehawks to all but seal the fourth and final playoff spot.

The Spokane Braves are currently in fifth place in the Murdoch and need to win their final three games to tie the fourth-place Border Bruins with 34 points. Spokane plays the Nitehawks tonight, Grand Forks in the Bruins’ final game on Friday, and the Castlegar Rebels on Saturday. A seemingly daunting task, however, the Braves are coming off a 6-5 overtime win over the Rebels on Saturday night, following a 5-2 victory over Beaver Valley on Feb. 2. Spokane also defeated the Rebels, 3-1, and Border Bruins, 3-2, on consecutive nights back on Jan. 5-6.

B.V., meanwhile, will finish in third place in the Murdoch Division and face the second-seeded Rebels in the first round of the playoffs.

On Saturday, the Border Bruins Trey Mason’s second goal of the game at 14:37 of the third period proved the winner in a 6-2 win over the Nitehawks.

After Jaxen Gemmell put the Nitehawks up 1-0 on a first-period power play, Mason evened the score beating Hawks goalie Owen Sikkes at 7:16.

Rilee Poffenroth gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead at 16:05 of the second for the only goal of the period, despite the Nitehawks holding a 13-8 shot advantage, but Quinn Yeager was solid in the Bruins net.

After Mason netted his 23rd of the season to put Grand Forks up 3-1, Bruins forward Bryar White made it 4-1 just 90 seconds later. Nitehawks defenceman Evan Gorman blasted a point shot past Yeager at 9:51, but that was as close as the Hawks came, as Dalton Luce scored into an empty net with 1:27 to play, and Zane Avery added insult to injury with another goal in the final 33 seconds.

Grand Forks outshot the Nitehawks 31-28, with the Hawks going 1-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.

In Friday’s match versus Columbia Valley, the Nitehawks jumped out to a 4-1 first period lead on two goals from Bradley Ross and singles from Morgan Peace and Nolan Percival on their way to a 5-3 victory.

Ross notched his 24th and 25th tallies of the season to go along with 18 assists in 45 games for the Nitehawks and is second in team scoring behind Dylan Heppler with 22 goals and 51 points.

The Hawks Erik Bocale completed the scoring, while Liam Coulter stopped 18 shots and earned his 12th victory in net for B.V., while Nelson native Ben Kelsh stopped 33 in the loss for the Rockies.

Beaver Valley hosts the Spokane Braves tonight at the B.V. Arena with the puck drop at 7 p.m.

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