Sixteen Nitehawk players counted at least a point on Wednesday night including goalie Tallon Kramer, as the Neil Murdoch Division leading Beaver Valley Nitehawks trounced the Spokane Braves 8-3 in KIJHL action.
Led by veterans Devin Nemes with two goals and an assist and Kyle Hope with one goal and two helpers, the Hawks overwhelmed their opponent firing 61 shots at the Spokane net.
“We got off to a great start tonight,” said Hawks assistant coach Jeremy Cominotto. “It was nice having played them Saturday so we kind of knew what they were going to throw at us so we were able to prepare last night.”
Tyler Hartman scored the winner for the Nitehawks, as his backhand bounced off the shoulder of Braves starting goalie J.J. Pichette and dribbled over the line to give B.V. a 4-1 lead at 11:14 of the second period. The goal was Hartman’s first of the season after coming off a three-assist night in Spokane on Saturday.
Trail native Bradly Ross opened the scoring just 65 seconds in and was closely followed by a breakaway tally from Devin Ghiradosi, who bust free on a perfect headman pass from Evan Gorman with the other assist going to Kramer. The Braves replied at 8:21 when Paxton Malone broke down the right side and beat Kramer low to make it 2-1. But before the period was out, Tyler Ghiradosi jumped on a juicy rebound from a Ryan Terpsma point shot and banged it into the open net. The Nitehawks owned the play in the first period, outshooting the Braves 19-7 in the period.
The Hawks attack stalled briefly in the second period, despite having two early power plays they were unable to capitalize.
“We’ve been struggling with out power play a little bit, just moving the puck from the back end to the guys up front,” said Cominotto. “But it’s early and we made a few adjustments and saw some results at the end of the second period. It’ll come we just have to be a little patient with it.”
Spokane made it 4-2 when Luke Gallagher snuck a shot past Kramer shortside on a Braves power play. But Bever Valley finally solved their pp troubles when Dylan Heppler slid one by Pichette on a scramble in front of the net.
Beaver Valley opened the third period with two shorthanded markers of the strange variety. Nemes high clearing attempt from his own zone took a funny bounce past Pichette, then a Spokane give-away to Hope in front of the net left the Hawks forward with a yawning cage to put B.V. up 7-2. Nemes rounded out the Hawks scoring on a scorching wrister off the crossbar, while Malone netted his second of the night at 11:26 to make the final 8-3.
The Nitehawks fired 20 shots at the Braves net in the third period for a total of 61 shots, while Spokane managed eight on Kramer for three-period total of 20.
The game also marked the return of team leader Sam Swanson to the lineup. The Fruitvale native has been out with injury since the opening game of the season against Nelson.
“It was great to have Sammy Swanson back. He’s the leader of our team on and off the ice, and I think he gives us that extra jump with some speed and some grit.”
The offensive outburst was a good sign for the Nitehawks and shows balance throughout the lineup.While rival teams are making moves as players are cut or released from Jr. A teams, the Hawks have remained relatively quiet over the first two weeks of the season.
“We like what we’ve got,” said Cominotto. “Every move we make, it’s going to have to make us better. We don’t want to move lateral, we want someone that’s going to put us over the top.
“We have a good mix of veteran guys and some rookies, and they’re pushing themselves in practice and games. They understand that they have to work hard to get ice time. There’s so much skill and leadership on the team, that it makes it easy to put almost anyone on the ice at any given time.”
The Nitehawks face the 1-2-1-0 Grand Forks Border Bruins on Friday, a team they tied 1-1 in their first encounter this season, then return home for a Saturday tilt against the 2-2-0-0 Nelson Leafs with the puck drop at 7:30 p.m. at the B.V. Arena.