The Beaver Valley Nitehawks had their chances but couldn’t close out the series, as the Kimberley Dynamiters held off the Hawks in a 1-0 victory on Wednesday in Kimberley.
Following a 4-1 Nitehawks victory in Game 3, Dynamiters goalie Cody Campbell made 32 stops for the shutout and Franco Colapaolo scored the only goal of Game 4 to tie the series and force a deciding Game 5 in Fruitvale tonight (Friday).
“There was a lot of things we did very well but a few things that we didn’t do very well,” said Nitehawks coach and GM Terry Jones. “We had some opportunities and we didn’t capitalize, and the one goal they scored was a great goal, the kid made a great effort.”
The Dynamiters were playing for their playoff lives down 2-1 in the best-of-five KIJHL Kootenay Conference Final going into the match. The Nitros played a tight-checking defensive game in the first period limiting the Hawks to just seven shots in the period, while Kimberley fired five at Hawks netminder Tallon Kramer.
The Hawks came out determined in the second period and had a number of looks with three power-play chances in the back half of the period but couldn’t beat Campbell.
“It’s been a while since our power play has really clicked, but it’s one thing to not score on the power play and it’s another to let it affect everything else,” said Jones. “We got a lot of negative momentum from our power play and we have to change that around a little bit.”
The Dynamiters scored with 6:29 to play in the middle frame, when Colapaolo flew down the right wing, broke in front of Kramer and swept in a backhand for what proved to be the game winner.
“The whole team is very happy,” Campbell told Black Press TV after the game. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, that’s a phenomenal team. but wer’e not done, we’re going to enjoy it for the next couple hours, then tomorrow get a fresh sleep and be sure we’re ready to go for Friday.”
The Nitehawks outshot the Dynamiters 17-10 in the period but a couple posts and several big stops by Campbell neutralized a usually persistent Nitehawks attack.
“For whatever reason we didn’t bear down around the net,” said Jones. “We had a lot more opportunities to score then they did, and not just shots, but scoring chances, and I think we could have generated even more.”
The Nitehawks had trouble getting shots through from the blue line but Jones credits the Nitros defence for sacrificing their body on numerous blocked shots, and shutting down the Hawks offence. The Hawks finally beat Campbell in the third period but the goal was disallowed because the net was off its moorings.
A penalty call on Mitch Foyle with 1:48 to play put the Nitehawks comeback in peril and despite pulling Kramer in the final minute, B.V. could not find the equalizer.
In all, the Nitehawks went 0-for-7 on the power play and outshot Kimberley 32-23, while the Dynamiters were 0-for-5 with the extra man.
“We have to look at the foundation of what makes our team go, and I think that our effort has been pretty good, but at the end of the day I think we need to generate more power-play success,” said Jones. “We’ve been scoring by committee, and have had somebody come up big all year long when we needed it.”
The Nitehawks will look to pick up the tempo in Game 5, and get to Campbell early as they did in their previous two playoff wins. But the Hawks must also improve their power play, which has struggled mightily in the playoffs scoring just seven times on 51 chances for a 13.73 per cent success rate. The Hawks owned the best power play in the Kootenay Conference in the regular season at 25 per cent.
And as with most playoff series that go the distance, the Nitehawk and Nitro players are banged up, but nagging injuries will all but be forgotten when the eventual winner raises the Kootenay Conference championship banner to the rafters.
“Everyone has something going at this time of year,” said Jones. “You got to battle through it. They lost their best defenceman in (Tyler) Van Steinburg, they’re going through lots of adversity, we’re going through lots of adversity, and it’s going to come down to the team and the individuals that want it the most.”
The puck drop for Game 5 of the Kootenay Conference Final goes tonight at the Beaver Valley Arena at 7:30 p.m.
In the Okanagan-Shuswap Conference championship, the Osoyoos Coyotes and Chase Heat will play a decisive Game 5 on Friday, after the Heat won their second game in a row in overtime, 5-4.