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B.V. Nitehawks win-streak ends in epic shootout loss to Border Bruins

Grand Forks and Beaver Valley shootout took 22 snipers to decide the thrilling 3-2 outcome
Grand Forks forward Chad Bates beat Nitehawks goalie Connor Stojan in a 3-2 shootout win on Tuesday at the Hawks Nest. Photo: Jim Bailey

The Grand Forks Border Bruins ended the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 16-game winning streak in dramatic fashion on Tuesday at the B.V. Arena.

With the game tied at 2-2 after regulation, overtime solved nothing and the teams went to a shootout. It took 11 of each team’s top snipers before Grand Forks forward Jace Koole beat B.V. goalie Connor Stojan with a deke between the pads for the 3-2 victory.

“We battled, but we weren’t sharp, it was a tough game, the puck was bouncing for both teams, and a bit of a game of ping-pong out there,” said Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones. “I never felt like we found our comfort level for most of the game, but the guys battled and we got a point out of it, but a tough one to lose.”

The Border Bruins also came into the game on a hot streak with an 8-1-1-0 record in their last 10 games. Bruins defenceman Ben Edwards opened the scoring, blasting a point shot high glove on Stojan for a 1-0 lead 2:42 into the opening period.

William Ray responded for the Nitehawks three minutes later, redirecting a shot from Adam Redding for a power play goal to tie it at one.

The Nitehawks fired 17 shots at the Border Bruins goalie Matthew Dovichak in the second period, but could not beat the Strathmore, AB native and the game remained deadlocked through 40 minutes.

The ice tilted in the third period, when Nitehawks forward Redding was given a blow-to-the-head major penalty followed by a boarding call to Ray that put B.V. at a two-man disadvantage midway through the final frame.

Grand Forks sniper Chad Bates notched his 20th of the season, lifting in a rebound over the pad of an outstretched Stojan for a 2-1 Bruins lead at 10:28.

The Nitehawks were down but not out as Boris Hristov lifted a deflected pass from Jake Geronazzo into the back of an open net to tie it at two with 6:32 to play.

After a scoreless overtime period, the Border Bruins started the shootout with Russell Kosec scoring to go up 1-0.

The Nitehawks third shooter captain Kaleb Percival beat Dovichak five-hole to tie it and force sudden death.

The goalies went save for save until Bruins Carter Skarbon scored to go up 2-1. But Joel Smyth, with the game on the line, wired a shot off the bar and in to tie it. Two shooters later, however, Koole notched the game winner.

“It’s a tough league, and when you win 16 games in a row teams are going to be gunning for you, and that’s certainly what’s at stake every night for us,” said Jones. “Grand Forks is a good team, kudos to them and their team, and their goaltender played great.”

The Hawks outshot the Bruins 42-34 and were 1-for-3 on the power play, and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill.

The Nitehawks, however, extended their point streak to 17 straight games and will look to build on that through their final four games of the regular season.

With the shootout loss, Beaver Valley goes to 30-8-0-2 and missed out on clinching the Neil Murdoch division title, as the Border Bruins improve to 26-10-2-2, six points back of B.V. with four games remaining.

The Nitehawks built a formidable and balanced team this season, and earned their first 30-win season since 2020 when they played 49-games. The Hawks have also scored more goals than any other team in the KIJHL (191) this year, yet have no one in the top-20 scoring.

“We have a lot of good depth, and I think the guys are working hard and battling hard, and these kinds of games are really important for us to have before we go into playoffs,” said Jones. “We need to taste defeat. I didn’t expect to win the rest of the games, the guys have to understand that this is part of the process.”

With 62 points, the Nitehawks are also within striking distance of first place overall and the KIJHL regular season title, just one point behind Revelstoke and Princeton.

The Times asked Jones how the Hawks will prepare for its final games and ultimately the post season?

“This weekend we got Spokane Friday and Castlegar Saturday, two tough tests on the road, and we have to keep working at getting better,” added Jones. “Teams are scouting us pretty hard, and figuring out what we are doing. We just have to do a better job at one-on-one hockey and keep working on it at practice.”

The puck drop for the games in Spokane and Castlegar is at 7 p.m.

Jim Bailey

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