Some hard to believe things have been going on in local hockey.
We have two junior teams playing within a 15 minute drive of each other, and who would believe there would be only one game in a local rink, this Saturday at the Hawks’ Nest in Beaver Valley, available to local fans in a period of three weeks?
And yet, thanks to nearly unbelievable disfunction among schedule makers for the KIJHL and BCHL, that is the case this season. It is ludicrous, but true.
• The Beaver Valley Nitehawks are always a dominant force in the KIJHL, and who would believe the perennial doormats in Grand Forks would ever have their number? And yet, the Border Bruins swept the three games, two at Beaver Valley, between the two clubs this month, all by 3-2 scores, to suddenly become a playoff contender in the league’s always strongest Neil Murdoch Division.
• The KIJHL is generally a league of high scoring outcomes. And yet, the Nitehawks have played to that 3-2 score in five of their seven games so far this month, and the Border Bruins, with among the worst defensive records in the league entering the month, have held opponents to two or fewer goals in six of the eight games they have played in November.
Strange days indeed.
• Meanwhile, the Smoke Eaters, who raised hopes around here by knocking off what was the hottest team in the BCHL not named Penticton Vees, the Victoria Grizzlies, twice in a week, still have not figured out a way to maintain the pace they have seemed capable of all season for a full 60 minutes.
Things will not get any easier for the Smokies this weekend, either. They travel to surprisingly strong Wenatchee Wild, Penticton Vees, and then face long-time nemesis West Kelowna Warriors on the road before returning home for their only two games at Cominco Arena in an entire month of play next weekend (that schedule thing).
Beginning at the middle of the month, however, Smoke Eater fans will still have time to grab up some Smokie stocking stuffers (and main presents, too) during the run-up to the Christmas break. And, of course, to watch the entertaining-but-frustrating local squad perform.
Still hope, of course, for post season play here, but it will take a more consistent effort, game by game, from Trail for the team to climb at least one more standings rung and achieve that.