The Nelson Leafs evened the best-of-seven Neil Murdoch Division final on Sunday with an overtime win over the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
The Hawks rolled over the Leafs in Game 1 Saturday night in Nelson, winning 5-2 on the strength of a hat trick from Paul Leroux, but the Leafs battled back for a 2-1 victory in Game 2.
Leafs’ forward Reid Wilson banged in a rebound 1:48 into the first overtime period for the game winner, finishing a 2-on-1 with Cole Wyatt after Nitehawks goalie Noah Decottignies made the initial save.
Following an uninspiring effort in Game 1, the Leafs also had a slow start in Game 2 managing just four shots on goal in the opening frame, and if not for a fortunate bounce off of the Nitehawks defenceman on their first goal, the Leafs could easily be trailing two games to none.
B.V. outshot Nelson 12-4 in the first, and had a two-man advantage early in the period, but did not capitalize. Despite the loss, the Nitehawks accomplished what they set out to do, earning a split in Nelson, and now regain home-ice advantage.
Nelson opened the scoring at 17:09 of the third period, when a Nicholas Onofrychuk point-shot deflected off Nitehawks defenceman Jarred Macasso and past Hawks goalie Noah Decottignies for a 1-0 Leafs lead.
The Nitehawks B.V.’s Michael Hagen replied six minutes later, breaking in and slipping the puck between the pads of Nelson goalie Hunter Young to tie the game at 1-1.
With time winding down, Decottignies stood tall, making a great pad save off Wilson on a breakaway, then stymied Sean Campbell with the blocker on another free pass.
Beaver Valley outshot the Leafs 24-19 and went 0-for-5 on the power play, while Nelson was 0-for-3.
In Game 1, Leroux put the Nitehawks up 2-1 in the first period, then the Hawks added three more in the second to take a 5-1 lead. Nolan Corrado made it 3-1 on a set up from Bradley Ross just 24 seconds into the middle frame.
Recchi came out from behind the Nelson net and slipped a backhand past starter Caiden Kreitz at 9:31, and exactly one minute later Leroux beat Kreitz on a very tight angle for the 5-1 lead.
Nelson’s Cole Wyatt rounded out the scoring in the third period as the Leafs outshot Beaver Valley 29-21, with Nelson going 0-for-4 on the power play, and the Hawks 1-for-3.
The series resumes in Fruitvale, with the Games 3 and 4 going Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Hawks Nest.