The Village of Fruitvale and the Beaver Valley community hosted a special event congratulating the B.V. Nitehawks on an unbelievable season and its first ever Western Canadian Keystone Cup championship on Thursday.
Close to 300 supporters attended the Beaver Valley Nitehawks Day celebration at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall that honoured the Nitehawk organization, its players, coaches, executive, and volunteers for their KIJHL championship, the provincial Cyclone Taylor Cup title, and the Keystone Cup.
“It was amazing,” said Nitehawks coach and GM Terry Jones. “Such a huge response, and so vocal, and emotional. It just means a lot to our executive, to the players, and our coaching staff. This is a hell of a day.”
Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Area A director Ali Grieve hosted the evening with an ongoing slide show and the odd brain teaser for the players and fans.
Special guest, Nitehawks’ co-founder Shirley Lavesque, talked about the inauspicious Nitehawk beginnings, and the community’s resolve to make the Hawks a permanent fixture in the KIJHL.
With ample refreshments supplied by local businesses, it truly was a community event, where the many volunteers were thanked and congratulated, speeches were made, the players introduced, and autographs signed for all in attendance.
But the highlight came when Hawk president Dennis Bedin recognized the contributions of the coaches whose commitment and dedication to the team over the years has made the Nitehawks one of the most successful franchises in the KIJHL if not all of Junior B hockey.
“A lot of people think our coaches get paid, well I’ll tell you something it’s a cup of coffee and a donut,” said Bedin. “If we had to pay these coaches what they’re worth, we would not be here today. It’s a 24-7, 365 day-a-year job . . . and the man that glues this all together and makes it stick is Terry Jones.”
Following a thunderous ovation, Jones then paid tribute to the people behind the scenes like executives Terry Jones Sr. and Pat Vallier for contributions to the breakfast club, Steve Scaia for his ongoing contribution as photographer, bus driver, and D.J., Treasurer Kevin Hendrickson, assistant coaches Kevin Limbert, Jamie and Jeremy Cominotto, trainer Tom Meakes, video coach Dave Paisin and goalie instructor Alex Evin and many more. But most of all, Jones recognized that it’s not just the guys wearing the Nitehawks jersey that contribute to the team’s success.
“Our team runs on this,” said Jones following the celebration. “We are not like every other team, we need this . . . We often call ourself the family, and it’s not just the players, the executive, the coaches, and the parents, it’s our fans. When you have the success like this, everybody counts, and this just brings it all together.”
As for players like defenceman Lyle Frank, who came to the Nitehawks from Grande Prairie along with Brett Clark, Sheldon Hubbard, and Braden Fuller, the B.V. experience was something special.
“It’s been incredible,” said Frank. “I’ve never had anything like it. I’ve been playing hockey for 15 years and I’ve never won this much in a season, never accomplished this much.”
It will be a slightly different look next season for the Nitehawks with the loss of 20-year-old veterans Archie McKinnon, Ryan Edwards, Keanan Patershuk, Dan Holland, and Fraser Stang, in addition to Hubbard who has committed to the Trail Smoke Eaters. Frank will be part of a veteran core that hope to return.
“I would love to be back next year. That is my goal, and I want to work hard in the off-season, come back next year and do it all over again.”
Nitehawk Notes: The Nitehawks coaching staff are back in the rink this weekend as they run their Spring Camp from Friday to Sunday.