A lightning fast start in Game 4 helped propel the Beaver Valley Nitehawks to a four-game sweep of the Grand Forks Border Bruins on Tuesday at the Jack Goddard Memorial Arena.
The Nitehawks scored three goals in the opening two minutes and 19 seconds on their away to a 7-4 victory over the Bruins to win the best-of-seven Neil Murdoch division semifinal.
“We just jumped to it, three goals in the opening two minutes, it was an unbelievable start,” said Nitehawks coach and GM Terry Jones. “I don’t think they know what hit them.”
Tyler Hartman opened the scoring 10 seconds after the opening faceoff, blasting a quick shot past Grand Forks goalie Anthony Galliart on a setup from Blake Sidoni and Dylan Kent. Less than a minute later, Tyler Ghirardosi took a feed from Mitch Foyle and wired one by Galliart for a 2-0 lead, and Bradley Ross made it 3-0 converting a Hartman and Foyle setup with 17:41 still to play in the first period.
“We got a really quick jump off the first faceoff, and more than anything else the three forwards jumped on it, it was a really quick play and a really quick shot. The quickness of the shot surprised Galliart and that was it, they got on their heels right after that.”
The Hawks didn’t slow down as five minutes later Dylan Heppler buried a Ryan Terpsma offering, and Hartman notched his second of the night at the 11:10 mark to net the winner and give the Hawks a 5-0 lead.
Grand Forks got on the board on the power play, as Logan Hascarl beat Kramer at 6:33, as B.V. outshot the Bruins 25-9 in the period. After a tight 3-2 Game 1 victory, the Nitehawks welcomed the the return of captain Sam Swanson and Nolan Percival to the lineup and dominated Game 2 in a 7-1 victory, and a 4-0 Game 3 shutout, with scoring contributions from up and down the lineup.
“You never expect the sweep,” said Jones. “When you look at the series, the first game was a really tough game to play. We didn’t play well and we give credit to them for bottling us up. Once we were able to get our game going, and keep the flow and the tempo up, we just knew that we were deeper.”
The Border Bruins would not roll over however, scoring three times in the second period on 18 shots. With the game 6-4 heading into the third, the Hawks defence locked down the Bruins offence and Percival scored his second power-play goal with 7:04 to play to complete the scoring and the 7-4 victory.
“They have some really fine players on their team,” said Jones. “We knew that if we are able to play a quick game opposed to a slow and methodical game it’s going to help us, so that’s what we focused on.”
The Nitehawks outshot the Border Bruins 44-35 and went 3-for-5 on the power play, while the Bruins were 1-for-3. Hartman earned player of the game for B.V., Dylan Haney for Grand Forks.
The four-game sweep gives the Nitehawks a rest and ample time to prepare for the winner of the Castlegar-Nelson series. The Leafs tied the series at 2-2 with a 1-0 double-overtime win over the Rebels in Nelson on Tuesday. The teams played eight overtime periods in three of those games, highlighted by a four-overtime marathon in Game 1.
“We’ve been there before, so we know what those guys are going through,” said Jones. “There’s two lines of thought, you stay in the playoff grind and you stay into it, and sometimes if you have a break you get flat. We’re going to take a day here and just chill, and then regroup and get practice going again, and keep our feet underneath us.”
In the Eddie Mountain Division, the Creston Valley Thunder Cats swept the Columbia Valley Rockies with a 5-3 win on Tuesday, while Fernie and Kimberley are deadlocked at two-games apiece after a 3-2 Kimberley victory Tuesday.
The Nelson Leafs and Castlegar Rebels resume their series in Castlegar tonight at 7 p.m.