Despite a 4-3 Game Four overtime loss to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks Tuesday night, there is good news for Nelson Junior Leafs fans. There will be a Game Six at the Nelson and District Community Complex.
Though Tuesday’s tilt lacked the same intensity as the night before, the 600-plus that came out were treated to some great playoff action: eventually.
Coming off the big win the night before, the Leafs came out flat in the first period. It took 10 minutes before Damien Devlin even registered a shot for Nelson. The Nitehawks controlled the play for most of the first period and were finally rewarded with just over a minute left when Dan Holland made a nifty move in the slot and slid one past Nelson starter Brett Soles.
With Nelson defenceman JJ Beitel in the penalty box early in the second, Ryan Edwards dished a nice pass to Derek Laschuk just over two minutes in to make it 2-0. The Leafs and their fans were deflated at that point, showing little energy on the ice and in the stands.
By the midway point of the second the mood changed when Aaron Dunlap’s hard work on the penalty kill paid off. With just over eight minutes left to play in the middle period, the Alaska native stole the puck for a breakaway and made no mistake beating Nitehawks rookie goaltender Jarrod Schamerhorn to cut the lead to 2-1.
While killing the same Connor Cross penalty, thirty seconds after that Linden Horswill and Carson Willans went in on a two-on-one that saw the latter hit the post.
With five minutes left in the second period, Willians banged away at a puck in close which finally made it past the goal line. Or did it? The referee waved it off at first, but after conferring with his linesmen called it a goal. The NDCC exploded.
Two minutes after that Keanan Patershuk took some wind out of the Nelson sails when he regained the lead for the visitors.
By the end of the second the Nitehawks held the 3-2 lead, but again the Leafs were leading in shots with a 20-11 advantage.
In an intense third period, both teams exchanged chances. Eight minutes in, it was Nelson’s Bryce Nielsen who found the net when he scooped up a Colton Schell rebound and snuck it over Shamerhorn’s blocker.
The remainder of the period had Nelson with the edge, but like he was on Monday Shamerhorn was once again up the task.
The Leafs started the overtime period on the powerplay thanks to a delay of game penalty as time ran out in regulation. Nelson had five great chances on the advantage, but couldn’t score.
Thirty seconds after that kill, Beaver Valley went on the powerplay when Kyler Wilkenson was whistled for interference. On the powerplay, the Nitehawks Dallas Calvin scored the highlight goal of the series when he beat the Nelson defence, swooped around the net and potted it away for game winner.
The scene now shifts to Fruitvale where the teams will play Game Five on Thursday night. Game Six will be in Nelson on Friday night start at 7 p.m.