The Beaver Valley Nitehawks did the improbable on Sunday, beating the host Abbotsford Pilots 5-1 in the final of the Keystone Cup to win the Western Canadian junior B championship.
The small West Kootenay town of Fruitvale iced a team comprised of at least a dozen players from Greater Trail. After an always difficult run to the KIJHL title, they played a grueling four games to win the Cyclone, then four days later the Hawks played six games in four days, going undefeated in the round robin before hoisting the Cup in Sunday’s final. It was the team’s 90th game of the ground-breaking season, excluding exhibition, and the first time Beaver Valley has won the Keystone.
In the final match, after a scoreless first period, Sam Swanson would get the Hawks on the board, finishing a nice pass from Braden Fuller at 4:04 of the second period to take a lead they would never relinquish. Just over 10 minutes later Taylor Stafford would score what proved to be the winner, making it 2-0 after another set up from Fuller and Dallas Calvin.
Despite being outshot 11-9 in the middle frame, Brett Clark was solid in the Nitehawks net, taking the lead into the third where Riley Brandt, Keenan Patershuck, and d-man Fraser Stang would make it 5-0 before the Pilots Jarrett Martin would score the only goal for the host team.
The Nitehawks would outshoot the Pilots 33-32 and go 0-for-7 on the powerplay, while Abbotsford was 0-for-6.
It was an incredible finish to an even more unbelievable year for the Nitehawks. Backed by Clark and AP goalie Carson Shamerhorn who combined for two shutouts, the Hawks outscored the opposition 32-5 in six matches with Calvin leading all scorers in the tournament with six goals, eight assists and 14 points, while Stafford came second with 7-4-11. Calvin was named the tournament’s top forward while Clark was awarded the tournament MVP.
B.V. opened the tournament with a 10-2 victory over Abbotsford, beat the Saskatoon Quakers and Blackfald Wranglers each by scores of 5-1, before shutting out the Selkirk Fishermen 3-0 and the Thunder Bay Northern Hawks 4-0.
And while the usual suspects led the squad, it was the play of guys like Swanson, Kyle Hope, Patershuk, AP’s Blake Sidoni and Mitch Titus who each had a goal against the Northern Hawks, and defenceman Jeremy Lucchini who was named the Hawks player of the game in the same match that truly displayed the character and depth of the Beaver Valley squad.
It was a special team and a special year, and for head coach and GM Terry Jones, assistants Jamie Cominotto and Kevin Limbert, and the rest of the Nitehawks staff, executive, fans, and volunteers, it will stand as the most memorable season in franchise history.
See more on the Nitehawks in Tuesday’s Trail Times.