The Beaver Valley Nitehawks lost home-ice advantage with a split against the Nelson Leafs in KIJHL playoff action on the weekend, and will look to take it back in Nelson tonight.
Following a demoralizing 6-1 loss to Nelson Friday night, the Nitehawks regained their composure with a 5-3 win over the Leafs Saturday at the Beaver Valley Arena.
“You work hard all year for home-ice advantage and then you lose it in one game, so it just goes to show you what it means,” said B.V. coach Terry Jones. “The next game is the next game and you go from there.”
The Nitehawks probably deserved a better result Friday, outshooting the Leafs 49-38, but Leaf goalie Brett Soles flummoxed the Hawks all night.
B.V. again looked vulnerable in the first period of Saturday night’s match, compounded by undisciplined penalties, that spotted Nelson a 2-1 first-period lead. However, the Hawks turned it around in the second period, scoring three times to go up 4-3 heading into the third.
“I really thought the key was the penalty kills,” said Jones. “We were really undisciplined with our play but our penalty kill was much better tonight . . . I thought once we got through that we started playing much better hockey . . . we started to get physical with their defence and once that happened we started to wear them down, we started to get some turnovers and then we got some goals.”
The Nitehawks killed off a pair of penalties to leading-scorer Dallas Calvin, and that success seemed to give them life.
The Hawks scored three time in a six-minute span in the second period, with Fraser Stang starting it off with a point shot that beat the screened Leafs’ netminder. Ryan Edwards would put the Hawks up 3-2, streaking down the right wing and using Keenan Patershuk as a decoy on a 2-on-1 before wristing a shot over Soles’ blocker at 6:21.
Patershuk netted his winning goal less than five minutes later in similar fashion, gathering a drop pass from Walker Sidoni and firing a water-bottle-popping bullet top corner, blocker side. Patershuk also added an assist on Michael Bell’s opening goal, and was named the game’s third star, behind Edwards and Jarrod Schamerhorn.
The Hawks will have to maintain the type of relentless pressure they applied on the forecheck in the second period, if they are to be successful against the Leafs.
“We had plenty of scoring chances (the first game), we were just able to bury them tonight,” said Patershuk. “We won a lot of our little battles too. Lots of body contact and taking it to them really hard, it just opened up a lot of ice. The scareder they are the better.”
The 19-year-old recently joined the team, and has been an imposing and skilled addition.
“With Pater you get a really solid effort,” said Jones. “He plays hard and he’s a real physical presence, and he’s a great kid so it’s nice to see him have success on the score sheet too.”
Edwards also had a great game for the Hawks with two goals and an assist and is confident that the Hawks can keep the momentum going.
“Today (Saturday) we were burying our chances,” says Edwards. “Yesterday (Friday) we shot a lot right at his chest, we’ve got to get them lower, get the rebounds, and drive to the net, and good things will happen.”
“It was a battle for us, but it was a really important win for our team,” said Jones. “Getting the first win in the playoffs when you’re a young team is sometimes the hardest thing to do.”
The Hawks-Leafs played Monday night, but the score was unavailable at press time. Game 4 of the Neil Murdoch division battle goes tonight at the Nelson Civic Centre at 7 p.m. Game 5 will go in Beaver Valley on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.