The Beaver Valley Nitehawks will strive to keep their unbeaten streak intact as they prepare for a home-and-home series with the Castlegar Rebels this weekend.
The Hawks will be in Rebel territory tonight, and return to the Hawks Nest on Saturday in what will be the first meetings of the regular season between the Neil Murdoch division rivals. Castlegar at 3-1-0-2 currently sits in first place in the division by virtue of having played three more games than the Hawks who are 3-0 to start the season.
Early indications suggest that the Rebels are in a rebuilding year with 11 rookies in the lineup, but after dropping their first three games, Castlegar has rebounded with three straight wins.
“We’re both different (teams) this year,” said Nitehawk coach and GM Terry Jones. “But there’s still a lot of guys returning there and there is still a good rivalry, so we look forward to it.”
The Rebels leading scorer in the early season is 20-year-old defenceman Aaron Brewer who has racked up nine points in six games, not a good sign considering the team traded away arguably their two top offensive threats in Jamie Vlanich and Travis Wellman to Nelson.
Veteran forwards like Darren Medeiros, Kody Disher, and Aaron Petten will have to step up to fill that void, but the acquisition of Derek Georgopoulis from the Fernie Ghostriders, and the possible return of Diego Bartlett from a Junior A tryout in Dauphin, Man. would certainly bolster their offence.
As for the Nitehawks, a couple of character wins against a resurgent Grand Forks Border Bruins and a solid Summerland Steam squad has the Hawks’ coaching staff satisfied with the results, but still looking for ways to improve.
“I think for most of the two games we were pretty happy,” said Jones. “The biggest thing was our discipline was pretty poor in the second period against Summerland, and it really put us on our heels. But there was lots of good things to see too.”
A few bright spots include the Nitehawks veteran line of Ryan Edwards, Taylor Stafford, and Michael Bell, who really came through in the third period against the Bruins, scoring three times to complete the come back after trailing 4-2 at the end of the second period. Stafford came up big again the following night, netting the winner midway through the third in the 2-0 win over the Steam.
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The Hawks also received a great performance from B.V. goalie Brett Clark, who registered his first shut out as a Nitehawk, the Nitehawks seems to have solved any concerns between the pipes.
The Nitehawks will be without two of its top defencemen with Archie McKinnon and Walker Sidoni nursing nagging injuries.
The Hawks-Rebels battle resumes at the Castlegar Sports Complex at 7:30 p.m. tonight and at the B.V. Arena on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Nitehawk Notes: Beaver Valley and AM Ford will team up on Saturday for their annual ride-and-drive fundraiser. AM Ford will donate $20 to the Nitehawks for every person that goes for a test drive at AM Ford Plus at Waneta Plaza on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.