Defenceman Sheldon Hubbard made an impressive return to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks’ line up after an AP stint with the Trail Smoke Eaters Saturday.
With the hiring of Smokie coach Nick Deschenes a sense of detente has settled over the cold war that recently raged between the Hawks and Smoke Eaters, renewing relations between the KIJHL and BCHL teams.
Hubbard suited up for his second match with the Smoke Eaters Saturday night and played a solid game on the blue line in a 4-3 loss to Merritt before returning to the Hawks for a Sunday afternoon 6-2 win over the Grand Forks Border Bruins. The 18-year-old Grand Prairie native netted a hat trick and added an assist in a game which saw the Nitehawks dominate.
“You don’t see that too often, the defenceman getting three goals, but it was really nice to see and it kind of seemed like he found a sweet spot on their goaltender there with the high blocker, but he’s got a great shot and he used it tonight,” said Nitehawk assistant coach Jeremy Cominotto.
After a 3-2 overtime loss in Spokane to the Braves Friday night, the Hawks were up bright and early helping Santa serve breakfast to hundreds at the Fruitvale Hall Saturday morning. The Christmas spirit aided the fledgling Hawks as they traveled to Kimberley later that day where they pummeled the Dynamiters 5-1 then spread the same Christmas cheer to Beaver Valley fans in Sunday’s triumph over the Bruins.
“We battled hard, three games in three days and a little bit of travel in between. The guys came out and had a great effort. Everyone chipped in, our back-end got on the board and kept the ball rolling for us.”
Hubbard netted the winner at 2:42 of the second period when he took a nice setup from Braden Fuller and Riley Brandt and wired one over the shoulder of Bruin goalie Kai McDonald.
“We’re starting to get together and playing a lot better,” said Hubbard. “Just being in the right spot, the guys dialed-in in front of the net, and getting the job done . . . It feels great, you get the win the two points and make a climb on Nelson here.”
The wins draw the Hawks within five points of the Neil Murdoch division leading Nelson Leafs who got pounded by the Fernie Ghostriders 7-2 on Friday. Meanwhile the resurgent Braves also beat the Border Bruins by an identical 3-2 overtime win on Saturday to draw within one point of the fourth and final playoff spot, currently occupied by the B’s.
Braden Fuller started the scoring midway through the first period, picking up a loose puck in a goalmouth scramble and sneaking it under McDonald. Archie McKinnon made it 2-0 sniping a shot from the slot for his first goal of the season to go with 19 assists, before Michael Rand got Grand Forks on the board, with a nice tip in on a Connor Gross pass.
Hubbard would net the only goal in the second period, but the Bruins Dakota Kittle would cut the lead to one at 14:08 before B.V. Rattled off three unanswered goals. Hubbard sent a pass from Mitch Foyle into the top corner to make it 4-2 before Kyle Hope potted his own on a nice dish from McKinnon.
Then with two seconds left on the clock, Hubbard would step into a Dan Holland pass, and rifle it again over the blocker of McDonald.