The Beaver Valley Nitehawks hadn’t played in the Cominco Arena in well over 10 years, but their return, in recognition of Hockey Day in Greater Trail, was an exciting one.
A depleted Hawks team faced off at the Trail Memorial Centre (TMC) against the KIJHL-leading Kimberly Dynamiters in a tough defensive match up that remained scoreless through regulation.
“I thought it was a really great effort,” said Nitehawks General Manager, Jamie Cominotto. “With three lines and five defence, the boys played well. I just thought it was a great effort by everyone who played that day.”
Kimberley carried the momentum from a strong third period into the first overtime. With 2:12 to play, Keegan McDowell took a pass down low from Cam Russell and drove to the net, sweeping the puck past Young for the 1-0 victory.
“The winning goal was simple, we just didn’t contain and when you take a shift off against a good team, they have so many weapons they can burn you with,” said Cominotto. “A power move to the front and that was it.”
It was the only point the Nitehawks earned on the weekend after a disappointing 4-2 setback to the Rebels in Castlegar on Friday. But with injuries to Ethan Jang, Angus Amadio, Brock Wallace, Quaid Anderson, Jesse Ihas and Markus McEachern, the outlook against the league’s best seemed dire heading into the TMC.
“It was almost like a road game for us, and to be on a big ice surface against that team, it doesn’t work in your favour,” said Cominotto. “They’re a quick team with a lot of skill up front.”
The teams played relentless hockey through 60 minutes, limiting the prime scoring talent in a lock-down, close-checking match.
The Dynamiters boast the league’s top scorer in Brock Palmer, who has 38 goals and 77 points in 39 games this season, while the Nitehawks forward Bradley Ross sits in third overall with 29 goals and 58 points in 37 games. Despite the skilled offence, the teams kept the game tight-checking with Nitehawks forward Marty Ingram effectively shutting down the Dynamite talent, and sticking with Palmer like a bad cold.
“I thought Marty Ingram was terrific, and the guys stepped up,” said Cominotto. “Hunter was terrific, which is what we’re going to need if we’re going to be successful.”
The momentum changed throughout the game with Kimberley holding a 9-5 edge in shots in the first period, before B.V. turned the tide in the middle frame, thanks to three power-play opportunities. However, the Nitehawks couldn’t beat Nitros goalie Adam Andersen who stopped 15 shots in the second period, while Hunter Young faced five in the B.V. net.
“Both goalies played unbelievable, both made saves when they had too. The ice tilted each way at times with a big ice surface and glass that high, the team defence seems to be a little bit easier when you can play it that high off the glass.”
The Dynamiters regained the momentum in the third, but Young made a number of key saves as the visitors outshot Beaver Valley 14-6 in the period, before ending it in OT.
Kimberley held a 31-26 edge in shots and were 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Nitehawks went 0-for-6. Both Young and Andersen earned Player of the Game honours.
On Friday, the Nitehawks ran into a hot goalie as Ethan Lawczynski stymied the B.V. shooters in a 4-2 Rebels win.
B.V. jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal from Ross at 8:38, as the Hawks outshot the Rebels 17-7 in the opening frame.
Castlegar’s Tyson Soobotin tied the game 66 seconds into the second period, before Nathan Ingram set up Ross to put the Hawks up 2-1 at 17:38. However, just 91 seconds later Griffen Ryden tied the match setting up an entertaining third period.
Tyren Grimsdale tallied what proved the game winner on his 10th of the season with 4:13 left in regulation, and Ryden scored into an empty net with nine seconds to play for the 4-2 final.
Beaver Valley outshot the Rebels 41-26 and were 1-for-7 on the power play and 6-for-6 on the PK.
The Hawks hope to get most of their walking wounded back into the line up within the next couple weeks, and in time for playoffs with just 10 more games remaining in the regular season.
“We have six experienced guys out,” said Cominotto. “Brock and Quaid are top two defencemen on any team in our league, and Jesse adds physical aspect to our back end. Angus is Angus, he’s our heart and soul, and Janger does it all, penalty kill, power play, tons of speed. Marcus MacEachern just a glue guy that adds so much spark to our team.
“These are key components to our success this year and we’re just trying to get everybody healthy and feeling good again.”
The Nitehawks maintain a tenuous hold on first place in the Murdoch Division with 52 points and three games in hand on second-place Nelson with 50 points.
Beaver Valley hits the road for games against the Golden Rockets and Columbia Valley Rockies this weekend.
“They’ve played us tough over the last couple years, and hopefully we can show some consistency. The boys should feel pretty good about what happened Saturday and play with a little bit more offence and confidence.”