The Beaver Valley Nitehawks open their 2019-20 KIJHL home season this weekend at the Beaver Valley Arena with a couple of tilts against Okanagan/Shuswap Conference teams.
The Nitehawks face off against the 100 Mile House Wranglers tonight and the Sicamous Eagles on Saturday. The Wranglers and Eagles share a tough division with the KIJHL and Cyclone Taylor Cup champion Revelstoke Grizzlies, and will prove a challenge for the Hawks in their home openers this weekend.
“We don’t know a lot about them,” said Nitehawks coach Terry Jones. “We only play them once a year, so it’s really difficult to get a read on them. I felt like our first weekend was a good week, and it showed us a lot against two really good teams.”
In their head-to-head matches last season, the Nitehawks beat the Wranglers 4-1 but lost to Sicamous 4-2.
“What I do know, I know the (Wranglers) coach Dale Hladun, and I know his teams play a certain style,” said Jones. “I expect his team to come in here and try to outwork us and I’m hoping that won’t happen. I know they’ll probably be relatively physical and they’ll be a pretty close knit group. He’s a good coach and he develops teams that always compete.”
The Hawks are coming off two 4-3 overtime losses to the Kimberly Dynamiters and Grand Forks Border Bruins last weekend to open their 38th campaign. The Hawks battled back from a 3-0 deficit in Kimberley to force OT, and dominated the Border Bruins through three periods, but came up short in the extra frame.
“When I think about our weekend, getting the the two points really is probably what we should have got. When you’re playing good teams on the road early, it really helps to assess your team, see where you’re at and what you need to get better at.
“Our practice week has been great. We’ve really worked hard and felt like our attention to detail has been bang on.”
Despite the early losses, B.V. is going to be a team to contend with this KIJHL season. The Hawks have a strong group of returning veterans, and a quality core of rookies led by Dayton Nelson and Zach Park, who accounted for four of the Nitehawks six goals last weekend.
“They are both good young players, we feel like they’re both guys who are going to make a good contribution, and will grow and develop a lot throughout the year. We’re excited they got off to a good start and we’ll look to get everybody going.”
For those fans that have yet to see the current version of the Hawks expect a fast, hard-working team, that plays disciplined and entertaining hockey.
“We don’t take short cuts, we stop and start, and if we can play like we’ve been practising this week, I think we’ll be really happy,” said Jones. “It’s early in the year, everyone’s still out to prove themselves, show the good habits, and that’s what we want to develop really good team habits. We’ll keep plugging away and hopefully get that first win at home this weekend.”
Game time for Friday and Saturday games is now at 7 p.m. at the B.V. Arena.