The Beaver Valley Nitehawks will have to wait another week before getting coach Terry Jones his 1,000th KIJHL victory.
The Nitehawks came out with conviction on Saturday, taking a 3-0 lead before it all unraveled and the Grand Forks Border Bruins battled back to beat B.V. 5-4 at the Beaver Valley Arena.
“I don’t know if the milestone is causing a block, but this has been a frustrating period of time for the last 12-15 games,” said Jones. “We’ve just found ways to lose and we found a way to lose tonight. Lack of discipline, poor reads, you have to play 60 minutes to win a game, and we didn’t.”
Briar Whyte netted a hat trick for the Bruins and scored the winning goal on an odd-man rush with 3:15 left in the third period. Former Nitehawks defenceman Evan Gorman sent Whyte in on a 2-on-1, and his attempted pass to the left winger ricocheted off the Hawks defenceman and past B.V. goalie Saran Virdee to give the Border Bruins a 5-3 lead.
Gorman played three seasons with the Nitehawks before joining his hometown Border Bruins at the start of this year. The 20-year-old captain has played 165 games in the KIJHL and won a Cyclone Taylor Cup with B.V. in 2016. And while he admits it’s odd facing his former team, it was a satisfying win.
“It feels pretty weird,” said Gorman. “But every time you come here it’s going to be a hard fought battle, but it was great to get the two points.”
The Bruins were well aware of the potential home-ice celebration awaiting coach Jones for his unprecedented 1,000th win, and they didn’t want to be the ones to give it to him.
“I think that put a little more fuel in the fire for us,” said Gorman. “We didn’t want it to be against us, obviously, but it’s a huge accomplishment.”
Nitehawks leading scorer Paul Leroux opened the scoring at 15:18 of the first period. Marty Ingram sent Ryan Crisalli breaking down the left wing, and the B.V. forward passed to a trailing Leroux who wired it top shelf for a 1-0 lead.
Michael Hagen made it 2-0 jumping on a partially blocked point shot from Luke Woodrow and roofing it at 2:01 of the first.
Then Crisalli converted an Angus Amadio setup in the slot, beating Zac Larson low stick side for a 3-0 lead at 18:24 of the second period.
“They say 3-0 leads are the worst in hockey for a reason,” said Jones. “You think the game’s going to be over and it’s going to be a point night, then they get a short-handed goal, and breakdowns, power play goals because of poor discipline.”
Cue the comeback.
Whyte got the Bruins on the board sniping a high shot over the glove of Saran Virdee 47 seconds later. Whyte then scored his second of the night on a shorthanded goal off a face off in the Nitehawks zone at 13:39. The Edmonton native pushed the puck past the B.V. centreman, walked around him and wired a quick shot by Virdee to cut the lead to 3-2.
Liam Stalwick tied the game on the power play with a blast from the point at 9:21, and Garlough-Bell put the Bruins out front for good on another power-play goal at 3:49.
Grand Forks outshot the Nitehawks 17-7 in the period, and took a 4-3 lead into the third. The Hawks had ample scoring opportunities but couldn’t finish on a number of point-blank shots. After Whyte made it 5-3, Crisalli notched his second of the night and 11th of the season on a deflection with 2:31 to play.
B.V. outshot the Bruins 18-7 in the period, while Grand Forks held a slight 36-33 edge in shots. The Bruins went 2-for-4 on the power play, B.V. was 0-for-4. Crisalli (2G, 1A) earned the game star for the Hawks, and Whyte for the Bruins.
“I’d just like to get it over with, but I want our team to play better,” said Jones. “You have to earn your wins … It’s a fragile group because we play really good for a period of time, then we play really poorly.”
The Nitehawks loss puts their record at 10-10-2-1, good for third in the Neil Murdoch Division, a point behind the Spokane Braves, who beat the division leading Nelson Leafs 4-2 Sunday. The comeback win puts the surging Border Bruins (10-10-1-1) just a point behind the Nitehawks, having gone 4-1-1-0 in November.
“It’s a huge character win for us,” added Gorman. “It shows that we have no quit in our dressing room, and that’s a big thing to have on this team.”
Beaver Valley travels to Kimberley on Friday for a 7 p.m. game against the Dynamiters.