The Beaver Valley Nitehawks start the New Year off with a full calendar of games in KIJHL action this weekend.
The Hawks biggest hurdle may come tonight in what could be a preview of the Kootenay Conference final when they travel to Cranbrook to take on the 25-8-0-0 Dynamiters in a rare appearance at the Cranbrook Memorial Arena.
B.V. and Kimberley sit in first and second place overall in the Conference standings and the game tonight will showcase what could be the third straight meeting in the conference final between the two teams.
The 25-4-1-2 Nitehawks won their previous meeting 3-1 at the Hawks Nest on Nov. 5, in what was a rough month for the Dynamiters, in which they suffered five of their eight losses. Much like the Nitehawks, the Nitros have been on fire since then, losing just once in nine games in December.
The Dynamiters have overtaken the Creston Valley Thunder Cats for top spot in the Eddie Mountain Division, thanks in no small part to starting goalie Cody Campbell who was named the Kootenay Conference’s Player of the Month for the month of December.
Campbell made six appearances in net for the Nitros in December, winning all six games and putting up a 1.79 goals against average, a .939 save percentage, and two shutouts. The 18-year-old puck stopper was acquired by the Dynamiters in late October from the Canmore Eagles of the AJHL where he was serving as the team’s backup goaltender.
Similarly, the Nitehawks Tallon Kramer, who has lost just once in his last 19 starts, sports a conference best .940 save percentage, with four shutouts, 20 wins in 26 games, and a miniscule 1.61 goals against average.
The Hawks host the 8-21-0-3 Golden Rockets on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., a team that has struggled, but battled the Hawks to a close 3-2 game in their previous tilt Nov. 26.
The Nitehawks then finish off the weekend with a match against Neil Murdoch Division rival Grand Forks Border Bruins on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Nest. The 16-13-2-3 Bruins currently sit in second place and should be buoyed by their recent 4-3 victory in overtime in B.V. on Dec. 18, which ended the Hawks 15 game winning streak. The Bruins are responsible for two of the Hawks four losses and are led by physical veteran forwards Chad Grambo, Trey Mason, Dylan Haney and Connor Brennan.
B.V. has one of the most complete teams in recent years. With a solid core of hard-working veterans that combine skill and toughness, the addition of Mitch Foyle and return of forward Tyler Ghiradosi from injury should also help offensively.