The Beaver Valley Nitehawks skated right back onto the winning track with victories over the Spokane Braves and Castlegar Rebels on the weekend.
Following a dramatic 3-2 shootout loss on Tuesday against the Grand Forks Border Bruins, the Nitehawks clinched the Neil Murdoch Division title with a 6-2 victory over the Braves in Spokane on Friday and then skated to a 5-2 win over the Castlegar Rebels Saturday.
Nitehawks forward Joel Smyth tallied his 10th goal of the season with 31 seconds left in the second period for the game winner and a 3-1 lead against the Rebels Saturday.
The wins improve the Nitehawks record to 32-8-0-2 with two games remaining, while Grand Forks is nine points back in second place with a 26-11-2-2 record. The Rebels have lost five of their last six games, and fall to 20-18-2-2, good for fourth place in the Murdoch division.
Beaver Valley jumped out to a 2-1 first period lead on goals from forward Jake Geronazzo and defenceman Will Caputo, while Antonio Ferrise scored the Rebels marker.
Rebels forward Daytn Kulynych beat B.V. goalie Connor Stojan for a power play goal 5:44 into the second period to tie it at two.
After Smyth’s game winner, the Trail minor hockey product set up Hunter Hansen on the power play 17 seconds into the third period for a 4-2 lead.
Brody Martini buried a pass from Roan Crowe for another power play goal at 2:21 of the final frame for the 5-2 win.
Castlegar outshot B.V. 34-33 and went 1-for-7 with the extra man, while the Hawks scored twice on five opportunities.
D-men Lucas Gartner and Kaleb Percival pitched in with two helpers each for the Nitehawks.
On Friday night in Spokane, the Nitehawks fired 73 shots on goal and B.V. captain Percival scored twice in a 6-2 win over the Braves.
The Braves jumped out to a 1-0 lead 4:15 into the first period, but goals from Hansen and two from Percival made it 3-1 after 20 minutes of play.
B.V. forward Nathan Simm made it 4-1 in the middle frame as the Hawks bombarded Spokane goalie Andrew Tworkowski with 49 shots through two periods.
Zach Baumann notched his 19th of the season, nine seconds into the third period to cut the lead to 4-2.
But Smyth restored the three goal lead at 12:11 with a short handed marker.
Hawks forward Connor Drake then put the game out of reach with another shorthanded goal at 16:22 after the Braves pulled their goalie when Martini was sent off for hooking.
B.V. goalie Landan Uzeloc made 24 saves, while the Nitehawks went 0-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the PK.
The Nitehawks will look to overtake the Princeton Posse and Revelstoke Grizzlies in the final weekend of the regular season. B.V. trails both teams by just one point as they play their last two games of the regular season in Grand Forks on Friday and the Nelson Leafs on Saturday at the Hawks’ Nest with the puck drop at 7 p.m.