It was a tale of two teams for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on the weekend.
Not much went well for the Nitehawks on Friday. After their bus broke down in Beaver Valley, the Hawks lost to the Border Bruins, 4-1, in a delayed start in Grand Forks. But B.V. bounced back for their third straight win at home with a 5-3 victory over the KIJHL champion, Revelstoke Grizzlies, on Saturday.
“It (Friday’s match) was extremely hard to watch,” said Nitehawks GM Jamie Cominotto. “It’s not the effort we need to win hockey games on the road … But we have to be happy with that effort (against Revelstoke). Any time you can compete and battle against a team like Revelstoke, it’s always great to come out with two points.”
B.V. has a perfect 3-0 record at the Hawks’ Nest, but have yet to win a road game with three losses, two of those in overtime, and two against the Border Bruins.
The Nitehawks have also been hampered by injuries to its top players. Second year blueliner Brock Wallace has been out since the start of the year, and forward Ethan Jang recently joined him on the sidelines with an upper body injury. Veteran forward Simon Nemethy returned to the line up, scoring a goal and two assists in his first two games back and will prove a definite asset if he can stay healthy.
Despite the setbacks to the team and on the road, Cominotto likes the Hawks roster and is confident they’ll once again battle for top spot in the Murdoch Division.
“I like the look of our team and I think the coaches are happy with the make up of our team,” said Cominotto. “It would be nice to get everybody back in the line up … and good to get the consistency early and find our way.”
Against the Grizzlies on Saturday, Nitehawks forward Kevin Duguid broke a 3-3 tie, scoring with 8:10 remaining in the third period and Marcus McEachern added an empty netter for the 5-3 victory.
The Nitehawks jumped out to an early lead with Bradley Ross scoring 10 seconds after the opening face off, on a set up from Angus Amadio. Jake Petrie replied for the Grizzlies, but Amadio put the Nitehawks back on top, converting a set up from Zachary Park and Ross less than two minutes later. Matt Cadden drew Revelstoke even on a power-play goal with 8:13 remaining in the opening period.
The teams played tentatively in the second period, but Nemethy scored with 81 seconds left in the middle frame to give B.V. a 3-2 lead.
Revelstoke forward Kole Christensson tied the game at 18:12 but the Nitehawks Duguid put the home team up for good and Nitehawks goalie Kevin Engman kept the Grizzlies at bay the rest of the way stopping 23 shots for the victory.
Beaver Valley fired 26 shots at the Grizzlies goal, were 0-for-4 on the power play, and 2-for-4 on the penalty kill.
The Hawks embark on a three game road swing through the Okanagan this weekend, and will need to fix their road woes if they want to catch the surprising Spokane Braves, who sit atop the Murdoch division with a 5-2-0-0 record.
B.V. opens in Princeton for a match against an enigmatic Posse team on Friday. The Posse have played just four games this campaign, earning two wins over the Kimberley Dynamiters and Castlegar Rebels, yet lost to the Fernie Ghostriders in a 9-3 blowout on Saturday.
The Hawks then face the 4-1-0-1 North Okanagan Knights. A much improved team from last season, the Knights have jumped out to a good start and trail the Kelowna Chiefs by just one point in the Bill Olhausen Division, yet, Sunday may be the toughest match up as the Nitehawks face the 4-2-0-0 Summerland Steam.
“The season’s still early, and teams are still finding their way,” said Cominotto. “We expect a battle and their records show they are pretty good teams. But you have to show up to play every night and, if you don’t, you’re going to be on the negative side of those two points. You have to be ready to play, and worry about yourselves and not your opponent so much.”
“We consider ourselves one of the top teams in the league when we play the way we can. If we show up and play the way we can, we hope to come away with six points this weekend.”