It may not be the Garden, but a Boston native has found a new home in a Hawks Nest deep in the wilds of British Columbia.
U.S. import and Boston native Dan Holland joined the Beaver Valley Nitehawks Nov. 27 and since then the Hawks have lost just twice in 16 games, including taking two of three games this weekend.
“I love it,” said Holland. “It’s so much different (than Boston). I’m use to the city, this is like the countryside, it’s awesome out here.”
With nine goals and 12 assists, the 19-year-old forward has helped the Hawks move up the standings, from 10-points out of first to just two.
After dropping a 3-1 decision to Kimberley Friday night, Beaver Valley responded with an offensive outburst in back-to-back wins over the Kimberley Dynamiters, 5-1, Saturday, and the Revelstoke Grizzlies, 8-2, Sunday.
Both Holland and stalwart veteran defenceman Derek Lashuk had a goal and two assists to lead the Nitehawks to a thrashing of the Grizzlies.
“Even when he’s off, he’s still the hardest working guy out there, he just skates and skates and skates,” said assistant coach Kevin Limbert. “I love watching that kid play, just the effort and intensity . . . he earns a lot of respect that way.”
After setting up Connor Brown-Maloski’s goal to open the scoring, Holland scored on a breakaway in the third period and also set up AP Sam Swanson of Fruitvale to put the Hawks up 5-1.
It was Swanson’s first goal as a Nitehawk in just his second game.
“For an AP, he showed a lot of confidence and poise out there,” said Limbert.
Coincidentally or not, since Holland joined the team and was put on a line with Dallas Calvin, and Brown-Maloski, the trio has been one of the most devastating lines in the KIJHL.
“I couldn’t ask for more, they’re great linemates,” said Holland. “Dallas sees the ice so well, shoots the puck like anything. I just stand in front of the net, screen the goalie, the puck goes by my head, always in the net, a real accurate shooter, and CBM sees the ice really well, he is one of the best passers out there.”
The line has netted 77 points in those 16 games, including an amazing 34 points for Calvin, who in his past 13 matches has 18 goals and 16 assists, including two goals against Revelstoke and a three-point night (2G, 1A) against Kimberley.
The Hawks are currently tied with Castlegar and are two points behind Nelson that leads the league with 55 points, but both Nelson and Castlegar have two games in hand.
With only 12 games remaining in the regular season for the Hawks, a push for first is definitely in the cards.
The Smokies play Castlegar and Nelson two more times in the regular season schedule, in addition to five division games remaining with Spokane and one with Grand Forks.
The Hawks would prefer to overtake Nelson and finish first in the Neil Murdoch division, and most likely play Spokane in the first round rather than Castlegar or Nelson.
“At the end of the day all we can do is control what we can control,” said assistant coach Kevin Limbert. “But if you finish second or third it makes for a longer road.”
Though still impacted by injuries, with five players sitting out Sunday’s game, and the trade deadline looming on Thursday, coach Terry Jones says there may be some movement, but that he was happy with the team and would prefer to stand pat, if possible.
The Nitehawks next home game goes Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Grand Forks Border Bruins.
KIJHL notes: Nelson recently made some moves to shore up both ends of the ice.
The Leafs acquired 18-year-old forward Connor Gross from the Grand Forks Border Bruins who has 20 goals and 17 assists on the season to give them some more punch heading down the stretch.
The Leafs also sent goalie Cody Boekman to the Columbia Valley Rockies, and picked up veteran puck-stopper Markus Beesley from the Kamloops Storm. Beesley is a 20-year-old goalie who has an 11-19-2 record, with a 3.36 GAA and a solid .914 save percentage this season.