Beaver Valley Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones is feeling a lot more confident about his team’s potential following the Aug. 26-28 main camp.
Over 50 players showed up to the three-day camp this past weekend and underwent a series of on-and off-ice workouts and simulated game scenarios.
“The camp was awesome,” said Jones. “It was a great weekend and we are really excited about the shape of the team. The guys came in shape, they came in with the right attitude and it’s a good feeling to start the year.”
The Nitehawks will play four exhibition games on Sept. 9-10 and 16-17, and will invite between 25 and 30 players back to compete for a spot on the roster.
“Some of the guys are deserving of the opportunity to play an exhibition game,” said Jones. “So we still have to make some choices and decisions, which we will do in the first part of exhibition season.”
Players will have the opportunity to attend Junior A camps, like the Trail Smoke Eaters main camp this weekend. The Nitehawks would like to see goaltender Owen Albers and dynamic forward Nathan Dominici return for this season, however, there is a very good chance they will be playing in the BCHL next year.
“They have good opportunities, I think, so we will see what happens with those two guys. But we have a good crop of young people who are interested and competitive and really showed well at the camp.”
The first players that come to mind that really impressed the Nitehawks coaching staff were skilled forward Kevin Unruh, 17, from Fort St. John, and Kootenay product Xavier Tinholt who played for the Nelson U18 Leafs last season.
Last year, the Nitehawks had to build their team from scratch after opting out of the 2020-21 season due to the pandemic.
Still they managed a second-place finish in the Neil Murdoch Division regular season standings, and lost in the division final to the Nelson Leafs in six games.
“I am certainly more optimistic than I was last year,” said Jones. “I feel like we have a bunch of players who are returning with some experience and some growth, and our new recruits have come in and are in good shape and fit in well with our culture.
“So I’m really feeling like we are ahead of the game compared to last year, and looking forward to seeing where we can get to with this group. I am pretty excited about the prospect.”
The Nitehawks will also welcome back former captain Chris Derochie who will help train the players at Elevate Fitness. He joins a long list of past Nitehawks on the coaching staff including assistants Ryan Edwards, Shane Drake, Mason Spears, and Jeremy Cominotto. Former Smoke Eater netminder Darren Miracle will cover goalie coaching duties.
Beaver Valley is also looking for three more billet families for the season. If interested in participating in a very rewarding experience, contact Tracee Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beaver Valley will play two exhibition games against the Nelson Leafs at home on Sept. 9 and in Nelson Sept. 10. They return to the Hawks Nest the following week for a game versus Castlegar Rebels on Sept. 16 and in Castlegar Sept. 17. The puck drops at 7 p.m.