The Beaver Valley Nitehawks capped off an impressive January with a 5-3 victory over the Spokane Braves on Sunday in Spokane.
The Nitehawks suffered a 5-4 overtime loss against the Grand Forks Border Bruins on the road Friday, but counted points in eight-of-nine games this month, to draw within five points of the second place Castlegar Rebels.
“We just want to keep getting better,” said Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones. “I think we still have some better hockey to play, but I really like how our guys have bought in and worked together. You can just tell when they come to practise, they know what’s at stake, they’re working for it, and their attention to detail has been really good.”
The Hawks went 7-2-0-1 in January and dominated the Braves on Sunday. Yet, the score remained close and the game tied 3-3 midway through the third period, until Nolan Percival notched the winner on a setup from Karsten Jang and Sam Swanson with 8:19 to play in the third period.
Hawks forward Bradley Ross opened the scoring on a shorthanded goal at 6:32 of the first, with the assist to Tommy McConnachie. Spokane’s Trail Thompson replied tying it at 1-1 just 29 seconds into the second period, before Christian Macasso put B.V. back in front 2-1 at 12:44.
But the Braves’ leading scorer Paxton Malone beat Hawks goalie Liam Coulter to make it a 2-2 game heading into the third, and then notched his 22nd to give Spokane the outright lead on a power-play goal 55 seconds into the final frame.
The Hawks Kevan McBean tied it six minutes later taking a pass from Ross and wiring it by Spokane goalie Ben Waslaski, to set up Percival’s game winning tally five minutes later.
Damon Kramer added an empty netter to ice the 5-3 victory, as Beaver Valley outshot the Braves 56-27 and went 1-for-5 on the power play, while Spokane was 1-for-4.
On Friday in Grand Forks, after a scoreless first period, the Border Bruins, trying to secure a playoff berth, went up 3-0 in the second period on goals from Rilee Poffenroth, Riley Smoler, and Trey Mason.
The Nitehawks recovered in the third and scored three straight power play goals from Dylan Kent, Angus Amadio, and Ross to tie the game at 3-3 with 5:11 remaining.
Castlegar native Aiden Jenner then pumped in his 12th of the season to put B.V. up 4-3 with just 2:58 to play, but Grand Forks forward Trey Mason notched his 20th goal and second of the game to force the extra frame.
The Nitehawks killed off back-to-back penalties in the first overtime, but in the second OT, a slashing call on Evan Gorman gave the Bruins another chance, and the home team executed when Smoler converted a pass from Mason with 1:35 to play for the 5-4 victory.
Mason had a four-point night for the Bruins, while Kevan McBean counted three assists for the Hawks and Ross and Kent each had a goal and an assist. Beaver Valley outshot the Border Bruins 41-38 and were 3-for-8 on the power play, while Grand Forks was 1-for-6 with the extra man.
With the regular season winding down, the Nelson Leafs lead the Neil Murdoch Division with 61 points and Castlegar four points back. B.V. is comfortably in third with 52 points and can still catch the Rebels, while Grand Forks (29 points) stretched its lead on Spokane to five points with six games remaining.
Beaver Valley hosts Grand Forks on Thursday at the Hawks Nest with the face off at 7 p.m. and travel to Spokane on Friday.