The Beaver Valley Nitehawks are back in action this weekend with a focus on winning for the sake of winning.
With the pressure of Hawks coach Terry Jones’ 1,000th win behind them, the 12-10-2-2 Nitehawks travel to Grand Forks to face the Border Bruins on Friday and return home for a match against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Saturday.
Grand Forks came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Nitehawks 5-4 back on Nov. 17 in Jones’ first shot at the milestone.
But the Hawks got it done last week, handing the Doug Birks division leading Revelstoke Grizzlies just their third loss of the season, then defeated the Chase Heat 3-2 on Saturday.
“To be honest, I think it became a real monkey on the back for a bit,” said Jones. “The players, I think they really wanted it badly and sometimes when you try to force things, you start to do things that aren’t normal.”
The 11-14-1-1 Border Bruins beat Castlegar 5-4 last weekend but lost their previous four games to drop to fourth place in the Murdoch Division standings.
Grand Forks is led by forward Zane Avery whose 16 goals and 44 points is good for fifth in KIJHL scoring, and former Nitehawk Evan Gorman is their top defender with 12 goals and 27 points.
The Bruins biggest concern has been in the crease with three goalies sharing the workload. Although, Grand Forks boasts the second most goals for, 112, in the Kootenay Conference, they also have the most goals against, 131.
Creston Valley, meanwhile, has had a rough first-half of the season going 7-18-0-2 and currently sit in last place in the Eddie Mountain division. The Thunder Cats have one win in their last six games, however, the Cats got some help up front with the addition of Trail Thompson from the Nelson Leafs last week in a three-way deal that saw Reid Wilson from the Castlegar Rebels go to the Leafs, and Creston send forward Darby Berg to the Rebels.
The Nitehawks are a young team, especially on the back end, but have been competitive despite injuries. The majority of the Hawks offence is generated from their top six with Paul Leroux leading all Nitehawks scorers with 12 goals and 32 points in 25 games including 10 points in his last six. Ryan Crisalli, Michael Hagen, Angus Amadio and Bradley Ross all have been mainstay contributors and the return of Simon Nemethy from injury should help up front.
The wins over the weekend lifted the Hawks into sole possession of second place, two points up on Spokane and four on Grand Forks in a tight Murdoch division race, with the 18-6-1-1 Leafs leading B.V. by nine points.
“The league’s wide open this year, and I think, we just have to keep working to get better, and if we do, that’s what is going to be the difference,” said Jones. “Whoever gets better from here on in is the team that’s going to emerge eventually so we’ll see what happens.”
Beaver Valley plays in Grand Forks on Friday and return to the Hawks Nest on Saturday with the puck drop at 7:30 against the Thunder Cats.