The Beaver Valley Nitehawks host the Nelson Leafs in the Neil Murdoch Division final starting tonight at the B.V. Arena.
Nelson finished off the Castlegar Rebels in Game 6 on Friday night in a thrilling 1-0 victory in Nelson. The Rebels held a 2-1 series lead until the Leafs reeled off three straight victories, with three-of-the-four wins in overtime, including a four-OT marathon 3-2 victory to start the series.
Meanwhile, the Nitehawks swept the Grand Forks Border Bruins and will look for their fourth straight division title when they face the Leafs in the best-of-seven Neil Murdoch final. The Hawks had a week-long rest between series, which should help in healing a few bruises suffered in the series, however, defenceman and team leader McKoy Hauck is still sidelined with an upper body injury.
“We’re hoping we can get McKoy back some time in the next series, but we don’t know when that will be,” said Nitehawks coach and GM Terry Jones.
Nelson has had a few days off to recuperate from the Pyrrhic victory over the Rebels, that saw the teams play nine overtime periods over six games. Two of the matches ended in 1-0 wins for the Leafs, showcasing outstanding goaltending from Devin Allen, and strong play from the Leafs’ defence.
“Our defensive corps is on par with anyone’s in the league,” Nelson coach Mario DiBella told the Nelson Star. “Honestly when I see those six out there, and even the other D-man who was in the stands tonight, I have nothing but confidence they’ll get the job done.”
The Nitehawks held the season-series edge on the Leafs, losing two of seven matches, but the Hawks-Leafs last two games ended in a 4-3 and 2-1 overtime final, so expect a hard-fought series from an already bitter rivalry.
“They have some solid goaltending, and some veteran defensive play, and they have that game-breaking scorer in Sawyer Hunt, so it will be a tough series, for sure,” added Jones.
The Nitehawks-Leafs face off tonight at 7 p.m. at the Beaver Valley Arena, with Game 2 on Wednesday at the same time and place.