The Beaver Valley Nitehawks netted three second-period goals then shut the door in the third as they skated to a 4-2 victory over the Grand Forks Border Bruins Tuesday night in KIJHL action at the Beaver Valley Arena.
Jacob Boyczuk scored what proved to be the winner at 14:29 scooping up a Ryan Edwards pass and firing it low between the pads of Bruins goalie Kai McDonald to make it 3-1 Hawks.
Despite the win, Nitehawks coach Terry Jones was not as delighted as one would expect after beating their fourth-place Neil Murdoch division rival.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction, but there are still a lot of things that need to be improved and fixed up,” said Jones after the game. “Too many long shifts, not many finished checks, the kind of things we view as typical Nitehawk hockey we’re not doing a lot of those things.”
The Hawks are coming off a 6-1 road-loss to Osoyoos last weekend, and while they remain entrenched in second spot in the Neil Murdoch division, a consistent collective effort or rather, a lack of it, is a growing concern.
“I’m pretty unhappy right now where we are as a team. I think on paper we’re good, but we haven’t quite bought into the whole team thing, we’ve got a lot of individuals. We have to lose the individual stuff and become a team more.”
The Nitehawks opened the scoring when 16-year-old Fruitvale native Kyle Hope jumped on a rebound from an Archie Mckinnon point shot and wired it by McDonald at 16:34.
However, the Border Bruins would reply before the first period was out, when Dakota Kittle took a neat pass from Connor Gross and fired it over the glove of Hawks netminder Grayson Sharpe.
The Hawks took the lead early in the second when Dallas Calvin netted his 18th goal of the season firing a point shot by a screened McDonald on the power play, to set up Boyczuk’s winner two minutes later.
The Bruins would cut the lead to one when Mitchell Pearson sent a quick pass from behind the net to Franco Colapaola who one-timed it by Sharpe at 3:13.
But Beaver Valley would restore the two-goal lead when defenceman Sheldon Hubbard and Boyczuk combined to send a streaking Ryan Edwards down the left-side. Edwards drove to the net and roofed it off the crossbar from an impossible angle with 49 seconds to play in the middle frame to round out the scoring.
Hubbard has been a key addition this year on the back end for the Hawks, playing physically, he moves the puck well and contributes when given the opportunity.
“I like to jump up into the play as much as I can, be physical too, and get the guys riled up and what not,” said Hubbard. “But yeah, when I can jump up into the play, I’ll jump in and help out as much as I possibly can.”
McKinnon, meanwhile counted three assists for the Nitehawks in the win. The Hawks captain has yet to score a goal but has 17 assists in 18 games. Edwards was also huge with a goal and two assists on the night.
Unsung Hawks that flew under the wire but were nevertheless impressive were guys like Russell Mortlock who counted an assist and was relentless in driving to the net and dishing out punishing checks.
The tandem of Mitch Foyle and Keanan Patershuk also generated numerous scoring chances with Foyle hitting the post twice, and getting robbed by a quick glove save late in the third after a pretty set up from Patershuk.
“I thought we played really well,” said Foyle who has five goals and nine assists. “We worked the puck down low good, and in the corner we were winnning battles, and Keanan being physical helps a lot too.”
The former Trail Smoke Eater says he is happy with his decision to join the Nitehawks earlier this season and is confident his offensive chances will translate into more goals eventually.
“I think I just have to be patient, keep working hard, and things will come.”
The good play of Foyle and Paterschuk also did not go unnoticed by the Hawks’ coach.
“I think Mitch’s game tonight was one of his best games of the year,” said Jones. “He was flying, he made a lot of intelligent plays, and that’s the kind of play we expect.”
However, the Nitehawks need to prove they are among the league’s elite and, as the season wears on, Jones will continue the process of getting talented players (and Hawk fans) to buy into the team concept.
“We are trying to find balance,” said Jones. “We understand that in order to win we have to have four lines in play, that can contribute and you can trust defensively, because the playoffs in our league is a grind and if you rely on just one or two guys no matter if they’re the talent of Edwards or Calvin you’re not going to win. You have to have everybody that can do it . . . when we build our team we try to develop a unit, a whole cohesive team that everybody can contribute and make it happen for us.”
The Bruins were without leading scorer Jackson Purvis, and goaltender Dominic Stadnyk who was injured in a game against Nelson Saturday, in which forward Max Newton came on and played two periods in relief because of a suspension to McDonald. Newton stopped 32 shots in the 6-3 loss. The Hawks were also humbled by injury to regulars Sam Barker and Sam Swanson, and inserting APs Spencer McLean and Ross Armour from the Major Midget Kootenay Ice into the lineup.
The Nitehawks outshot the Border Bruins 39-34.