The Beaver Valley Nitehawks had more to celebrate than just their 13th straight win in the KIJHL on the weekend.
The Hawks beat the Spokane Braves 5-1 on Saturday in Spokane, and also added former Nitehawk MVP Mitch Foyle to the lineup. But adding the veteran 20-year-old forward also came at a price, as the Hawks were forced to deal forward Devin Nemes, also 20, to stay within league regulations of five over-age players.
“The 20-year-old rule is a tough rule,” said Nitehawk coach and GM Terry Jones. “On the one hand we’re bringing in a guy, Mitch Foyle, who is a real good hockey player, good experience, a local kid; and on the other we’re losing a guy who has played so hard, and given his best for two years here. It makes for a really difficult decision.”
Nemes was traded to the Eddie Mountain Division’s Fernie Ghostriders in exchange for futures. In 86 games for B.V., the Calgary native netted 24 goals and 59 points, while playing with an edge and racking up 199 penalty minutes.
“He’s a hell of a player, and I know he’s going to be a tough player to play against. He’ll make Fernie a better hockey team and we really wish him well, because he is a first-class guy.”
Foyle played for the 2014 Nitehawks’ Keystone Cup championship team and enjoyed an MVP season with B.V. in 2015, before joining the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League last year. The Fruitvale native split the 2015-16 campaign between the Melville Millionaires and Flin Flon Bombers and amassed 11 goals and 26 points in 56 games. Foyle helped the Bombers make an unlikely run to the SJHL championship where they lost in six to the Melfort Mustangs.
In Saturday’s match, Nolan Percival tallied his fifth goal of the season at 4:53 of the second period to score what proved to be the winning goal as the Beaver Valley Nitehawks beat the Spokane Braves for the sixth straight time this season.
Since a tepid start, the Hawks have reeled off 13 straight wins and hold down first place overall in the KIJHL with a 16-3-1-1 record. The last time Beaver Valley lost a game was on Sept. 30 against the Nelson Leafs.
“We’ve been on a good role,” said Jones. “When we lost those games earlier, our efforts in practice and greater attention to detail is really paying off. I think a lot of our players have developed a lot of confidence over the streak and it’s good see guys getting on the sheet, good to see Tallon (Kramer) playing well in net, and good to see our defenceman getting good habits defensively.”
After Spokane’s Mason Jones was sent off for holding, Sam Swanson set up Mckoy Hauk who beat Braves goalie J.J. Pichette for a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the first period.
Percival put B.V. up 2-0, but Spokane cut the lead in half when Blake Halfpenny scored short-handed with 8:04 to play in the final frame. However, 22 seconds later a Dylan Heppler goal restored the two-goal lead, and Swanson iced it at 5:31 converting a Kevan McBean and Ryan Terpsma setup to make it 4-1. Bradley Ross finished the scoring with an empty-netter with 59 seconds remaining.
Nitehawks defenceman, McBean, had a three-point night and Tallon Kramer recorded his 12th win of the season, as the Hawks outshot the Braves 43-33 and went 2-for-5 on the power play.
The Nitehawks will look to continue their run when they visit the East Kootenay this weekend with games against the Golden Rockets and the Columbia Valley Rockies.
“The cliche is ‘one at a time,’” said Jones. “Our goal in our room is to be a championship-like team and in order to be like that you have to have laser-like focus. Guys have to know what it takes, game in, game out. You work hard in practice and the games come easier.”