The Beaver Valley Nitehawks received an unexpected but welcome boost to its lineup just in time for weekend games against the top teams in the Kootenay and Okanagan-Shushwap Conferences.
Trail native Dallas Calvin acquired a release from the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers and will join the Nitehawks when they face off against the Nelson Leafs in Nelson tonight and make his season debut at home Saturday against the North Okanagan Knights.
“Some things were not working out over there, and I decided I needed a change so I’m back here now,” said Calvin.
Calvin had been playing well for the Vipers netting a goal and five assists in nine games, seeing action on the power play, and playing on a line with Viper leading point-getter Mason Blacklock and Craig Martin, that is until Martin was traded to Alberni Valley early last week. While the trade was disappointing, Calvin says it had little to do with his decision to return to Trail.
“It’s all in the game, and it’s nothing personal between the coach (Jason Williamson) and Craig, I mean it sucks to see one of your good buddies go, but that didn’t really have any part in my decision to come back.”
Asked if the talented 19-year-old forward would consider a stint with the Trail Smoke Eaters, Calvin said that out of respect, he had assured Williamson he wouldn’t play for another BCHL team in case he decided to return to the Vipers.
It was a moot point, in any case, as Smoke Eaters coach Bill Birks was noncommittal about the possibility.
“That’s totally up to Dallas,” said Birks. “He was given that opportunity, as well as a couple other guys out in Beaver Valley with the Nitehawks, but if things don’t go exactly the way they want it, they take the easy road out, and I don’t think we can afford to do that again to be honest with you, but skilled, he is a super-skilled kid.”
Calvin racked up 74 points including 31 goals in 40 games last season for the Hawks, and 77 points in 2011-12. He brings loads of talent and playmaking ability, giving the Hawks more scoring depth and a number of options on the power play.
“I’m excited,” said Calvin. “It’s a great place to play, I’ve been there the last three years and I know what to expect, it’s a good team this year, should be fun and exciting, and I think we should do pretty well.”
The transition should be minimal for Calvin, who re-joins a raft of returning veterans including Ryan Edwards, Taylor Stafford, Archie McKinnon, and Michael Bell.
“There’s lots of good players, and lots of guys to work with, lots of room to get better, and I’m excited to be part of it.”
The Nitehawks play Nelson for the first time in the regular season and after dropping two pre-season games to the Leafs, 8-2 and 3-0, the Hawks are expecting a spirited match.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us and we don’t look ahead to Saturday too much, but on Friday the game in Nelson will be tough, and we have to be at our best for sure,” said Nitehawk coach and GM Terry Jones.
With Calvin in the lineup, the Hawks should enjoy a more balanced attack from an offence that has relied heavily on the line of Edwards, Stafford, and Bell.
“We are really excited to have him, he’s a great kid, and we’re just excited that he’s comfortable and happy and wants to play for us,” said Jones.
Nelson is on a roll, with the only blemish on their record a 2-2 tie in Columbia Valley last weekend. As expected, the undefeated Leafs are led by Trail native Jamie Vlanich and Travis Wellman, both acquired from the Castlegar Rebels in June. The former Rebels sit one-two in scoring for the Leafs, while Vlanich’s 19 points on six goals and 13 assists is second most in the KIJHL.
The Nitehawks are coming off their only loss of the season Saturday, a 4-1 beating at the paws of the Osoyoos Coyotes, a team that also handed the Knights their only loss in regulation, a 10-2 evisceration last week.
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It brought B.V.’s six game winning streak to an end, and has given pause to the coaching staff going into the weekend.
“We want to finish in first place so the games are important, but it’s one game out of 52 and we have to look at it that way,” said Jones. “We were so disappointed with our game on Saturday, we’ve gone back to the drawing board a little bit, and have lots of improvements to make that we’ve been working on in practice, but it’s a work in progress, that’s the way it always is.”
The addition of Calvin will bolster the Hawk lineup, and with a pair of wins this weekend push them to the top of the KIJHL standings.
The Nitehawks play the Leafs in Nelson tonight at 7 p.m. and return to the Hawks nest on Saturday against the Knights at 7:30 p.m.