As anticipated the first round of the Neil Murdoch division series between two-and-three seed Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Nelson Leafs is turning out to be a drawn out, grinding, war of attrition where ultimately +the last goal wins.
After Nelson took Game 3 2-1 in overtime Monday night, it was Beaver Valley’s turn to score the final goal on Tuesday, as the Hawks skated to a 4-3 overtime victory over the Leafs to even the series at 2-2.
The Hawks killed off a penalty midway through OT thanks to clutch goaltending from Jarrod Schamerhorn, and when Nelson’s Kyler Wilkinson was called for interference 25 seconds after the kill, Dallas Calvin made them pay.
Calvin took a pass from Ryan Edwards then drove around the defencemen around the net and deposited the winning goal past Brett Soles at 6:48 of the fourth frame.
The Leafs had two power play opportunities in the extra frame, but the 18-year-old former Nanaimo Clipper goaltender thwarted the Nelson attack, stopping 31 shots and getting the first star nod.
“It was huge,” said Hawks coach Terry Jones. “We started in overtime killing a penalty and then to get that kill Schamerhorn made a couple of great saves, and then to score on the power play after having a pretty abysmal power play all game, was great.”
Home ice hasn’t counted for much in the early going with both sides winning one in the other’s building, but the benefit of regaining home ice and playing in front of a loud, supportive crowd for a possible Game 7 can’t be underestimated.
“Now it’s two out of three, when you’re down 3-1 there is not a lot of room for error, so from where we were at, we’re happy to be 2-2 right now,” said Jones.
Dan Holland got the Hawks on the board with 93 seconds to play in the opening frame, taking a pass from Connor Brown-Maloski, he made a nice move in front of the net and slid the puck past Soles to make it 1-0.
Derek Lashuk would make it 2-0 on the power play, when he took a pretty pass from Ryan Edwards and slapped it into the back of the net at 17:44 of the second period.
But Nelson was not down for long. Hard work from Aaron Dunlop on the penalty kill paid off when he stripped the Hawks D of the puck and walked in all alone on Schamerhorn to make it 2-1 on a shorthanded marker.
Then with under five minutes to play in the second, Carson Willans banged away at the puck at the side of the net, until it eventually went in. The referee originally called it off but reversed his call upon consulting with his linesmen.
Beaver Valley took the advantage right back, however, when Michael Bell and Edwards combined to set up Keenan Patershuk who beat Soles to retake the lead 3-2.
The Leafs trailed heading into the third despite outshooting the Hawks 20-11, and eventually they would be rewarded for their efforts.
Eight minutes into the third, Nelson’s Bryce Nielsen gathered up a Colton Schell rebound and lifted it over Shamerhorn’s blocker to tie the game and send it to OT.
The puck drops for Game 5 tonight at the Beaver Valley Arena at 7 p.m.