The Beaver Valley Nitehawks closed out the Kootenay Conference Final Friday night with a convincing 6-2 victory over the Fernie Ghostriders.
The Hawks now get ready for a KIJHL final tilt with the Kelowna Chiefs, that also closed out their series with a 4-3 OT win against Sicamous.
After a tough seven-game Castlegar Rebels series, the Nitehawks are relieved to dispose of the Ghostriders in five games.
“We need a break, a little bit of a rest,” said Hawks’ assistant coach Jeremy Cominotto. “We have a few guys that are a little banged up so any extra time that you can possibly get going into a big final is well needed.”
Dallas Calvin was a dominant force up front, scoring twice and generating many scoring chances with AP Jake Lucchini on the wing who pitched in with three assists. With an injury to Tyler Collins, Lucchini fit in nicely playing on a line with Calvin and Max Flanagan.
“When I first came up I knew I wasn’t going to be playing the top-two lines so I just kind of played my role, just work hard and do the job,” said Lucchini.
The Trail native hasn’t missed a beat, after an impressive year with the Major Midget Kootenay Ice where he led the team in scoring and finished tied for 10th in the league. His play-making skills and fearless determination are an asset for a Hawks team preparing for the league final.
However, the Nitehawks suffered another blow to their line up. After setting up the opening goal, Mason Spear took a hard hit in the corner and would leave the game with a shoulder injury.
His status is questionable, but following the game Spear was positive and said he hopes to be playing Wednesday for the opening match.
The line of Spear, Justin Niminiken and Chris Johnson have played inspiring hockey of late, stepping up as opponents try to shut down the potent line of Craig Martin, Chris Derochie and Ryan Edwards.
Nitehawk goalie Zach Perehudoff was named first star for the second time in as many starts, stopping 28 shots as the Ghostriders out-shot the Nitehawks for the third game in a row, 30-26. Despite having the lower numbers on the shot clock, the Nitehawks generated more quality scoring chances and capitalized on their opportunities.
“It just gave us more confidence because our goalies came up with big games,” said Cominotto. “Both guys played great, Zach had an unreal game (in Fernie) and then Mike (Vlanich) came back and shut them out the next night. Any time you can do that in Fernie – it’s a small rink and they always pack it – the goaltenders really set the tone and gave us an opportunity to win the series.”
A family connection will highlight the next series with Kelowna. Hawks defenceman Derek Lashuk’s brother Brent plays for the Chiefs and was the overtime hero in the win Friday.
“It should be a lot of fun. I’ve talked to him all throughout the whole playoffs and now that it’s boiled down to this, it should be pretty cool,” said Lashuk.
“We faced them a couple times this year. We won in their rink, they won in ours, but you can pretty much throw out the regular season. They must have done something right, they beat some good teams to get where they are . . . we’re going to have to bring our A-game to win that series.”