Beaver Valley Nitehawks grab home ice advantage for first round

First two games of division semifinal versus Nelson will be played in Fruitvale on Feb. 22 and 23

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks got the wins and the help they needed on the weekend to secure home ice advantage in the first round of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs.

The Nitehawks swept the Spokane Braves in a home-and-home series by scores of 5-1 on Friday in Spokane and 4-1 Saturday night in Fruitvale.

The two wins, coupled with back-to-back losses by the Nelson Leafs in its two-game tilt with the Castlegar Rebels on the weekend, enabled the Nitehawks to grab second place in the Neil Murdoch Division, two points ahead of the Leafs.

That means the Beaver Valley Arena will be the site of the first two games of the best-of-seven divisional semifinal between the Hawks and Leafs on Feb. 22 and 23.

The other matchup will see the Rebels, who also finished first overall in the KIJHL, host the fourth-place Braves.

The Nitehawks did their part to get home ice advantage with two convincing wins against the Braves.

Friday night, Zach Perehudoff stopped 45 of 46 shots while Walker Sidoni and Keanan Pateershuk spotted the Hawks a 2-0 lead after one period.

Goals by Ryan Edwards and Brandon Butlin made it 4-0 after 40 minutes.

Spokane broke the shutout bid in the third before Russel Mortlock added the final dagger with 19 seconds left in regulation.

Saturday night it was Jarrod Schamerhorn’s turn to shine between the pipes as he stopped 36 of 37 Spokane shots.

Butlin, in the first, and Riley Brandt, in the second, gave Beaver Valley a 2-0 lead before Spokane got on the board to make it 2-1 after two periods.

Michael Bell and Edwards added third-period marker to wrap up Beaver Valley’s 33rd win of the season.

All that was left was to watch the Rebels help out the Nitehawks by taking two from the falling Leafs by counts of 3-2 on Friday and 5-0 on Saturday.

The losses, which extended Nelson’s losing streak to seven games, left the Leafs with 32 wins on the season and two points behind Beaver Valley for second place in the division.

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