The Beaver Valley Nitehawks cap off a fine finish to their season with a glimpse into next year.
Following a thrilling run to the Kootenay Conference final in March, Beaver Valley will hold its Spring Camp this weekend with an eye to identify potential Nitehawks.
Nitehawks General Manager Jamie Cominotto says about 65 players will to take to the ice at the Beaver Valley Arena for the three-day round of exhibition games starting Friday.
“It will include a lot of our vets, which we like, because they’ve gone through this process before so they can explain it to the new kids going through it, what to look for and expect,” said Cominotto.
The Hawks should be in a better position than last season, when they had less than 10 players return. Inconsistent play during the regular season saw Beaver Valley finish second in the Neil Murdoch Division well back of the Nelson Leafs. However, the team came together and made an exceptional playoff run. The Hawks took out the Grand Forks Border Bruins in four straight, then dispatched the Leafs in six, before falling to the Kimberley Dynamiters in the KIJHL semifinal.
While the Nitehawks’ co-captain Jake Yuris was the only graduate from the team this past season, the team doesn’t expect a full roster to return, despite carrying 17 rookies last year.
Top forwards like 18-year-olds Paul Leroux and Michael Hagen will attend the Spring Camp, but will likely advance to Junior A next season, and Ryan Crisalli has committed to attend university.
In addition to losing three or four guys up front, Cominotto says B.V. expects to lose up to three defencemen, yet that total is a drop in the bucket compared to 2018-19.
“Having said that, we’re losing that many guys and we’re still in really good shape, compared to last year where we had to recruit probably 15 or 16.”
The team, led by venerable coach Terry Jones, has developed a solid reputation for success and every year there are a few surprises as players request a tryout at the Nitehawks’ camp.
“It’s always nice to have prospects contact you just through friends that play on our team or have played on our team in the past, that always makes the recruiting process easier,” said Cominotto.
The return of 20-year-old veterans Morgan Peace and Angus Amadio will provide outstanding leadership, and the return of young local talent like Bradley Ross, Nathan Ingram, Marty Ingram, and Jesse Ihas gives the team a solid foundation. The Hawks’ coaching staff is also impressed with the local talent coming up the ranks.
“We’re excited about all of them, the guys that are coming to town, and we have some really good local guys that are going to push for spots as well.”
The Nitehawks finished with a respectable 27-17-3-2 record, the 23rd straight winning season for coach Jones. The team will look for better this coming season, and, with a strong returning corps of veteran players and quality rookie additions, the learning curve for the 2019-20 campaign should not be as steep. The Nithehawks GM firmly believes that attaining that consistency and high-compete level should come sooner rather than later for the team.
“There won’t be as much teaching required this year,” said Cominotto. “You’ll see more time just working on systems and getting better from last year.”
Many of the camp attendees will be invited back to the Nitehawks Main Camp in August.
The Spring Camp starts Friday with four teams competing in a round-robin format at the B.V. Arena in Fruitvale.
Friday: Blue vs White goes at 5:45 p.m., followed by Green vs Orange at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: Blue vs Orange at 8 a.m. and Green vs White at 9:45 a.m.
Blue vs Green at 5:30 p.m. and White vs Orange at 7:15 p.m.
Sunday: third place vs fourth place at 8 a.m.
First vs second place at 9:45 a.m.