The Beaver Valley Nitehawks were grounded on the weekend, dropping a pair of games to Neil Murdoch Division rivals Grand Forks and Nelson.
A shorthanded Nitehawks team fell 4-3 to the Nelson Leafs on Saturday after suffering a 5-2 loss to the Grand Forks Border Bruins on Friday, resulting in a three-way tie atop the Murdoch Division standings each team with seven points.
The Hawks lost the services of veterans McKoy Hauk and Tyler Hartman for a pair of games after a brouhaha with the Border Bruins the night before, and were also missing Devin Nemes and Tyler Ghiradosi.
The Leafs Austin Steger scored with three minutes and 52 seconds remaining in regulation to break a 3-3 tie and earn the two points for the visiting team.
The Nitehawks fell behind early when Ryan Piva beat Hawks starter Josh Breznick four minutes into the opening frame. B.V. defenceman Devin Ghiradosi netted his third of the season tying it two minutes later on a setup from Damon Kramer and Evan Gorman, but the Leafs stormed back with goals from Dale Howell and a power play marker from Andy Fitzpatrick to go up 3-1, while outshooting BV 15-8 and chasing Breznick in favour of Tallon Kramer at the end of the period.
The Nitehawks regrouped in the second, and carried the play but could not beat Leafs puck-stopper Ben Kelsch, until Bradley Ross converted a Dylan Heppler pass with 12 seconds remaining in the middle stanza to bring the Hawks within one. The Hawks outshot the Leafs 12-6 in the period, and continued to pressure Nelson in the third. Heppler was finally rewarded midway through the period, tying the game 3-3 with assists to Ryan Terpsma and Aiden Browell.
The Hawks outshot the Leafs 34-30 and went 1-for-5 on the power play while Nelson was 1-for-4. Jaxen Gemmell earned Player of the Game honours for B.V. and Steger got the nod for the Leafs.
On Friday, the Hawks visited Grand Forks and went toe-to-toe with the Border Bruins in a physical 5-2 loss. The Hawks outshot the Bruins 13-4 in the first period but entered the second in a scoreless draw. The game turned in the middle frame when Grand Forks scored three power-play goals to go up 4-1 and holding a 12-10 edge in shots.
With tension building, Karsten Jang brought the Nitehawks within two on a power-play goal at 8:53. Fights erupted and eight misconducts were handed out. The ill-will continued until the end of the match, with numerous ejections, but at the end of the match it was Grand Forks skating away with two points and a 5-2 victory. The Hawks outshot the Bruins 31-23 and were 1-for-7 on the power play, while the Border Bruins went 3-for-5.
The Nitehawks next game goes Friday in Nelson against the Leafs and Saturday at home versus the Spokane Braves.