The Beaver Valley Nitehawks picked up some breathing room atop the Murdoch Division standings with a pair of wins on the weekend.
The Nitehawks defeated the Castlegar Rebels 3-1 on Friday at the Hawks Nest, then pounded the Creston Valley Thunder Cats 6-1 in Creston on Saturday.
Six different scorers pitched in for the Hawks, with Simon Nemethy tallying a goal and two assists and Ethan Jang netting the game winner in the lopsided win over the Cats.
B.V. goalie Kevin Engman was also solid between the pipes stopping 26 shots for his 10th win of the season as the Nitehawks increased their Murdoch Division lead to five points over the idle Nelson Leafs.
“It’s a really good group and I’m hopeful this builds confidence in the implementation of how we play in our systems and our power play and just hopefully we get to peak at the right time,” said Beaver Valley head coach Terry Jones.
B.V. came out firing on all cylinders on Saturday, and Nemethy opened the scoring on a pretty backdoor pass from Zachary Park at 11:45 of the first period.
Hawks forward Jang then tallied his 10th of the season to put B.V. up 2-0 with 6:07 to play in the period, as the Hawks outshot the Cats 12-5 in the opening frame.
Hawks defenceman Kaden Katelnikoff fired a point shot through traffic four minutes into the second period for his first goal since joining the team on Dec. 6. Nate Ingram then made it 4-0, scoring a power-play goal on a wicked blast from the point at 12:18.
Creston tried to battle back but Engman turned aside 10 shots in the period and carried that confidence into the third.
Marty Ingram banged in a rebound for a 5-0 Hawks lead, and Brock Wallace made it 6-0 on a rocket from the point with 12:07 remaining in the final frame.
The Cats, however, spoiled Engman’s shutout bid when Logan Berggren scored midway through the period for the 6-1 final.
Creston outshot Beaver Valley 12-6 in the third period, and 27-25 overall. The Nitehawks collected their 23rd win of the season, amassing 51 points, good for first place in the Murdoch Division.
“We’re in first place in our division and I don’t think we’ve come close to playing at our highest level yet,” said Jones. “I’m hopeful that’s where we can get to and keep building.”
The Nitehawks came out flying on Friday, as B.V. battled division rivals the Rebels to a 3-1 win.
Nemethy scored what proved to be the game winner at 1:22 of the first period just 13 seconds after Nolan Corrado opened the scoring. Beaver Valley’s most recent addition, defenceman Ryan MacDonald, assisted on the play in his first game since coming to the Hawks in a deal with the Osoyoos Coyotes ahead of Friday’s trade deadline.
The Nitehawks lost top d-man Luke Woodrow for the year, and is still missing valuable pieces from its lineup including forwards Angus Amadio and Markus McEachern, and defensive stalwart Quaid Anderson, but is looking forward to better health in the new year.
“We have to do a better job at trying to stay healthy,” added Jones. “We’ve looked at it and asked, ‘Is there something that we’re missing that’s causing us to get hurt more?’ We’ve looked at all that stuff and hopefully we can make some adjustments so we do stay healthy.”
Corrado also notched his first goal since rejoining the Hawks from the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League earlier this month.
The Rebels cut the lead in half on an Erik Nystrom unassisted effort at 4:34 of the middle frame. However, Nemethy notched an insurance marker at 17:05, and Hunter Young did the rest stopping 24 shots on the night, while the Nitehawks fired 33 at the Castlegar goal.
Nemethy scored his 14th goal and 30th point on the season, as the 18-year-old Vanderhoof native earned game stars in both games for his six-point weekend.
B.V. is in Castlegar on Friday for a return tilt against the Rebels, and host the league leading Kimberley Dynamiters on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Cominco Arena in Trail for a special Hockey Day in Trail appearance.
See story in Friday’s Trail Times.