Skip to content

Beaver Valley Nitehawks poised for new season

B.V. coach Jones will remain part of the KIJHL Hockey Operations committee.  
The schedule is set for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks upcoming season.

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League held its Annual General Meeting on June 22 in Nelson, and released its schedule in what is shaping up to be a dynamic and intriguing season. 

The KIJHL’s Board of Governors approved a re-alignment for the Okanagan-Shuswap Conference’s Doug Birks and Bill Ohlhausen divisions, with the addition of the Merritt Centennials, and the newly formed Quesnel River Rush and Williams Lake Mustangs franchises. 

Beaver Valley Nitehawks president Steve Piccolo, vice-president Jake Swanson and head coach and GM Terry Jones attended the meeting. 

“It was really nice to meet those groups face-to-face and welcome them to the league,” said Swanson. “I had a chance to talk to each one of them a little bit, which was really great. 

”It’s going to be exciting to go into these new buildings and see new teams, and expand on our Junior A experience.” 

Quesnel and Williams Lake will join the Doug Birks Division along with the Chase Heat, Kamloops Storm, and 100 Mile House Wranglers, while Merritt will compete in the Bill Ohlhausen Division against the Kelowna Chiefs, Osoyoos Coyotes, Princeton Posse, Revelstoke Grizzlies and Sicamous Eagles. 

Last season Princeton (71 pts), and Revelstoke (70 pts) finished first and second in league standings with Sicamous (63 pts) fifth overall, making for what promises to be a highly competitive division.  

There are no changes to the Kootenay Conference, or the Neil Murdoch Division where the Nitehawks, will face off against longtime rivals the Nelson Leafs, Castelgar Rebels, Spokane Braves and Grand Forks Border Bruins. 

• The KIJHL is still paving a pathway to Junior A Tier 1 status, and has engaged the Blackfin Sports Group to oversee the evaluation process. Blackfin had met with 12 of the league’s 21 teams prior to the AGM, including the Nitehawks. 

“We had our site visit from Blackfin recently,” explained Swanson. “They came to our facility, they got a full tour, and a sit down with key staff in our organization, and we feel like it’s gone very well to this point.” 

The Blackfin Group’s evaluation of the KIJHL Tier 2 Junior A teams will determine which organizations are ready to elevate their game to the Tier 1 level, be competitive, and ultimately vie for the Centennial Cup. 

“In a perfect world, I think we’d like to see every team in the KIJHL to advance to Junior A, but that process is outside our control, but I know every team in the KIJHL is putting their best foot forward, as part of this process.  

“For us specifically we used the opportunity to look inward, and look at our program and ask, ‘What do we do well, and what are some areas we can improve on?’ And we feel like we are making good progress.” 

• The KIJHL also increased the number of eligible 20-year old players from six to seven this year. 

“We had only five allowed two years ago, so it’s potentially a bit of a change to the roster compositions throughout the league.” 

Swanson notes that it will level the playing field, as several Junior A leagues across the country allow between seven and nine 20-year-old players on their rosters. 

• In addition, Swanson and Brett Holt (Columbia Valley Rockies) were also re-elected to the KIJHL’s Executive Committee, which oversees day-to-day league business on behalf of the Board of Governors, on new two-year terms. 

B.V. coach Jones will remain part of the KIJHL Hockey Operations committee.  

Season Schedule: The puck will drop on the 2024-25 KIJHL regular season on Friday, Sept. 20 when the league’s 21 teams embark on a 44-game schedule. 

The Nitehawks open its season in Spokane against the Rebels, and will play its home opener on Sept. 28 versus Kelowna. 

All clubs will play a total of 10 inter-conference games with teams in the Doug Birks division hosting teams from the Neil Murdoch division, and teams in the Neil Murdoch division hosting teams from the Bill Ohlhausen division. 

The Nitehawks will host Revelstoke Oct. 18, Princeton Nov. 2, Osoyoos Nov. 9, Merritt Dec. 7, and Sicamous Jan. 5. 

They will hit the road for games in Kamloops and Chase on Oct. 25-26, and will head up north to play Quesnel, Williams Lake, and 100 Mile House, Dec. 13-15. 

“It might mean an extra night on the road, but that’s okay,” said Swanson. “It’s a trip in December, but we’re looking forward to it.” 

Beaver Valley has a heavy schedule in November with 10 games, and in December when they play six of nine games on the road in a month which includes a 10-day Christmas break. 

After a New Year’s Eve game in Nelson, the Nitehawks close out the season with a lighter schedule, playing just 13 games in the final two months, with 12 of those against Kootenay Conference opponents. 

Coming off another Murdoch division championship and a Conference final appearance, Swanson was impressed with the Nitehawks spring camp in April and looks for another successful season in 2024-25. 

“Terry (Jones) and Jeremy (Cominotto), and Corey Clarke with our scouting staff, they put on an absolutely unbelievable spring camp,” said Swanson. “We had about 70 kids in town for that and we signed some guys out of that camp, and we are really excited. 

“We have a good core of guys returning, who will help carry on our Nitehawk culture, and we are really looking forward to this year.” 

The regular season will conclude on Saturday, Feb. 22 with B.V. facing off against the Rebels at the Hawks Nest. 

The 2025 KIJHL playoffs begin on Friday, Feb. 28. 

Jim Bailey

About the Author: Jim Bailey

Read more