With one month to go in the jockeying for playoff positions, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks closed out January on a winning note and geared up for a busy February.
The Nitehawks scored a 4-2 win over the Sicamous Eagles on Saturday to rebound from a 5-2 loss in Armstrong on Friday to the North Okanagan Knights.
While the loss in Armstrong ended a six-game unbeaten streak, the Nitehawks can still find solace in that Saturday’s win in Sicamous allowed them to close out January with only two losses in nine games.
That sets the stage for a hectic final month which will see Beaver Valley host Nelson, Castlegar and Spokane in home-and-home games over the final three weekends.
The dust hadn’t finish settling on Sunday yet the logjam continued in the Neil Murdoch Division with five points seperating the top three teams – Nelson, Castlegar and Beaver Valley.
While those three clubs represent a strong sample of the elite in the KIJHL, the Hawks also butted heads with the Knights, who rank second overall in the league behind Nelson.
The North Okanagan team gave up two goals to Dallas Calvin, the league’s points co-leader, but otherwise shut down the Hawks en route to its 10th straight win.
Calvin gave Beaver Valley a very brief lead five minutes into the game but 45 seconds later the Knights responded to erase that deficit then score two more goals to skate out of the first period holding a 3-1 lead.
The Nitehawks tried to rally but could not dent Austin Buzzell’s armour between the pipes for the Knights. Buzzell stopped 41 of 43 shots with only Calvin beating him to up his goal-scoring total for the year to 30.
The tally of shots in the third saw Buzzell repel all 19 to seal down the Knights 10th-straight win since the start of 2013. The Knights made it 11 wins in 11 January games with a 7-0 whitewash of Summerland on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Saturday night in Sicamous, Kurt Black’s goal, his 25th of the season, with 97 seconds to play in the first period spotted the Hawks a 2-1 lead on the Eagles after 20 minutes. Danny Vlanich opened the scoring for the hungry Hawks who came out flying and outshot Sicamous 16-5 in the first.
Despite keeping up the onslaught in the middle frame, launching another 15 shots on goal, Beaver Valley was blanked while the Eagles swooped in for the lone goal and send the game into the third tied 2-2.
Dan Holland put Beaver Valley back in the driver’s seat two minutes into the period and Riley Brandt added an insurance marker with six minutes to play to lock up the win.
With a 6-2-1 record in January, the Hawks now flip the calendar for a bevy of playoff appetizers.
It begins Feb. 1 in Fruitvale when the Hawks host the Nelson Leafs in the first of a home-and-home weekend set.