Beaver Valley Nitehawks clinch top perch

Valley squad grabs top seed in KIJHL's Neil Murdoch Division

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks clinched the Neil Murdoch division for the first time in six years and can secure the KIJHL overall title with a single point this weekend.

The Hawks sit 10-points ahead of the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference leading Revelstoke Grizzlies which have five games remaing. Any combination of a Grizzly loss or tie and a Nitehawks win or tie will cinch the KIJHL title.

The Hawks needed just a single win in regulation heading into a home-and-home series against the Castlegar Rebels last weekend to sew up first place in their division – they certainly didn’t do it the “easy” way.

Going into the game Friday, Beaver Valley was 11 points up on the Rebels with six games to play but Castlegar had a game in hand.

The Hawks held a 3-2 lead late in the third but a Rebels goal by Anthony Delong with 36 seconds remaining in regulation tied the game at 3 and forced overtime.

Thanks to phenomenal goaltending from Mike Vlanich to preserve the tie and a double-overtime goal from Christian Johnson, the Nitehawks won the first game 4-3. However, Castlegar picked up a single point and with six games left to play, were still mathematically in the race.

The Nitehawks could wrap it up the next night in Castlegar with a tie or win.

After a lackadaisical effort over the first two periods, the Nitehawks found themselves down 3-1 late in the third.

It took a stunning last minute come back to force overtime and gain a single point to take top spot.

With 74 seconds to go, Mason Spear scored on a power play to make it 3-2, then Hawks forward Dallas Calvin would send it to overtime with 36 seconds remaining, to preserve a single point and clinch the division.

Castlegar’s Scott Morrisseau would score with 1:27 left in the first overtime to win it for the Rebels.

Assistant coach Kris Boyce said he was not happy with the effort but was encouraged by the team’s ability to get back into the game and pick up the point.

The Rebels won the division series against Beaver Valley five games to three, with four of the matches decided in overtime.

The Nelson Leafs beat Spokane 8-7 on Sunday solidifying the playoff picture for the Neil Murdoch division that will see Beaver Valley play the Spokane Braves, and the Rebels take on the Leafs.

The Nitehawks next match is vs Golden on Saturday at the B. V. Arena at 7:30 p.m. and Spokane Sunday at 1 p.m. The Hawks finish the season with a home-and-home against Nelson Feb. 17-18.

Playoffs start Feb. 24. Nitehawk notes:

The Nitehawks scoring trio of Chris Derochie, Craig Martin, and Ryan Edwards have slipped out of the top three in KIJHL scoring.

The Kimberley Dynamiter’s Richard Hubscher snuck by them on the weekend and is currently the league leader.

Hubscher collected nine points in three games this weekend including a five-point performance in an 8-0 drubbing of the North Okanagan Knights Saturday.

He currently sits two points ahead of Derochie with 29 goals and 64 assists for 93 points, compared to 27-64-91 for the Nitehawk captain.