The Beaver Valley Nitehawks won the Kootenay Conference title on Monday night following a convincing 6-2 win and a 4-1 series victory over the Creston Valley Thunder Cats at the Johnny Bucyk Arena in Creston.
“It was a great game,” said Nitehawks assistant coach Jamie Cominotto. “We played a full 60 minute hockey game that we’ve been looking for.”
The Hawks jumped out to an early lead and never looked back as the winning goal came in the first period on the power play off the unlikely stick of defenceman Jeremy Lucchini.
With the Cats’ leading scorer Brandon Formosa off for hooking, Dallas Calvin and Braden Fuller would set up Lucchini who buried his first of the playoffs past Creston goalie Brock Lefebvre with under a minute to go in the opening period to give the Hawks a 3-1 lead.
“He (Lucchini) made a great read, he came in from the point and Fuller made just a fantastic play over to him and he made no mistake,” said Cominotto.
The Nitehawks opened the scoring with a short-handed goal by Taylor Stafford three minutes in, converting a pass from Ryan Edwards to put the Hawks up 1-0.
“It kind of lifted everyone up. It was good, it set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Trevor Hanna would tie it on a Cats power play 67 seconds later, but Braden Fuller would take a pass from Calvin, and beat Lefebvre to give the Hawks the lead for good.
The pair would team up again putting the Hawks up 4-1 early in the second period, and then the defense took over as B.V. completely shut the Cats down in the middle frame allowing just three shots on goaltender Brett Clark, despite giving up two power-play opportunities.
“Our goaltending has been solid, our defence has really stepped it up, so when our defence plays well and we limit shots to the outside it’s very tough to score against us,” says Cominotto.
Riley Brandt would make it 5-1 at 13:40 in the third period, sending the Thunder Cats into desperation mode. The Cats pulled their goalie midway through the period in an effort to generate some offence but Mitch Foyle would foil their plan scoring into an empty net to make it 6-1 with 8:04 to play.
The Cats Connor Kidd capitalized on a power play with 4:54 remaining but that was as close as Creston would get.
The line of Stafford, Fuller, and Calvin accounted for eight points on the night and has been an offensive force for the Hawks since mid-season.
“I think we’ve been playing together, me, Fuller, and Stafford, I think we’ve been together probably since Christmas and it’s gone really well,” said Calvin.
While Edwards, 13-17-30, and Calvin, 12-15-27, lead the league in playoff and team scoring, Beaver Valley also has the capacity to spread out the offence when needed.
“We have a really deep set of forwards, and even D-men that are putting pucks in the net,” said Calvin. “We have four lines that score so on the nights where maybe guys like me and Edwards aren’t getting it done, there’s guys that are and we’re still finding ways to win games.”
With the win, the Hawks end the longest run ever of a Creston Valley Thunder Cats team that won it’s first Eddie Murdoch division title this season.
“They battled back from a 3-1 series deficit with Kimberley, so we knew they were never going to give up, so we knew we had to play our best game yesterday (Monday) and fortunately we were able to do that,” added Calvin.
Beaver Valley will meet the Kamloops Storm for the KIJHL title in Kamloops for the first two games on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. The series will go at the Hawks Nest on Monday and Tuesday at 7 p.m.