Bounces were not going the Beaver Valley Nitehawks way on Sunday at the B.V. Arena.
The Castlegar Rebels stormed back from a 2-0 deficit, scoring four times in the final frame for a 4-3 Rebels victory over the Hawks.
A Rebels point shot deflected off forward Evan Della Paolera’s stick and past Hawks goalie Owen Sikkes with 1:07 to play in regulation for the 4-3 victory and Castlegar’s 10th straight win.
“Honestly, there were some funny bounces,” said Nitehawks coach Terry Jones. “Those are some things you can’t control. We had a 2-0 lead coming into the third period and I didn’t think we came out with the right intensity defensively.”
B.V. salvaged just one point in its three weekend games, a 1-1 tie against the Braves in Spokane on Friday, before breakdowns saw both Grand Forks and Castlegar secure come-from-behind wins against the Nitehawks on Saturday and Sunday.
“I don’t know if it’s any one guy, I just think every guy has to do their job defensively and right now it doesn’t seem to matter what we do, everything is just going against us right now, and that’s sometimes just the nature of the game.”
The injury bug has become a monster for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, as the Hawks lost more key components to their line up on the weekend. Defenceman Karsten Jang and forward Tommie McConnachie were injured in Saturday’s game against the Border Bruins, and join d-men Kevan McBean and Connor Seib and forwards Morgan Peace and Austin Miller on the IR list.
“I’ve never really seen anything like it,” said Jones. “We finished the game with 12 guys yesterday (Saturday), and it’s been like that the whole season. So I think the (Christmas) break is coming for us at the right time and we’ll move forward.”
The Hawks iced four affiliate players from the BC Major Midget Kootenay Ice in Sunday’s game against a Rebels team that dressed three Ice affiliates due to suspensions incurred against the Nelson Leafs on Saturday.
The Ice players went straight from their BCMML game against the Vancouver NE Chiefs at the Cominco Arena that morning to the 1 p.m. tilt versus the Rebels in Fruitvale. Forward Simon Nemethy, and defencemen Kody Stewart, Brett Walchuk, and Quaid Anderson skated for B.V., and Fruitvale native Jesse Ihas and Ryan Bennett for the Rebels.
“We had three Major Midget defencemen who came in and played really well today after playing a game this morning. They logged a lot of ice,” said Jones. “I really like our room, I really like our guys, but you lose the quality of the guys we’ve lost on our backend and it’s tough.”
Following a scoreless first period, Nitehawks forward Dylan Heppler put B.V. up 1-0 with a power play goal at 7:36 of the first. Heppler took a pass from Nolan Percival at the point and wired a shot through traffic for his 18th of the season. Less than a minute later, the Nitehawks Angus Amadio put a puck on net, and Bradley Ross crashed the crease and lifted it over Rebels goalie Curt Doyle for his 17th tally.
Hawks goalie Owen Sikkes was stellar through two, but tough puck luck put the Rebels on the board early in the third. A quick shot from Chris Breese in the slot beat Sikkes at 19:07, then Breese tied it when his pass from the left corner bounced off Hawks defenceman Dylan Kent’s skate and into the net to even the game at two.
The Rebels took the lead on the power play, with Dallas Goodwin firing a backdoor pass into the open cage at 5:59. But B.V. struck back when Sam Swanson walked in from the point and fired a wrist shot past Doyle to tie it at 3-3 with 2:41 to play.
After Della Paolera’s winning tally, the Hawks pulled their goalie but couldn’t cash in with the extra man.
Castlegar outshot the Nitehawks 33-29, and went 1-for-4 on the power play while B.V. was 2-for-4. With the losses, the Hawks fall to 16-11-2-1 and remain in third place in the Neil Murdoch Division standings, while 22-7-0-1 Castlegar climb to within a point of the Leafs at 21-6-1-2.
In Saturday’s match, B.V. jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on goals from Damon Kramer and Heppler, but back-to-back tallies from Grand Forks Rilee Poffenroth tied it at two heading into the third.
The Bruins Alex Skinner made it 3-2 at 15:32 of the third, and Nathan Cohen-Wallis iced it with a goal at 1:58 to play for the 4-2 victory.
B.V. outshot Grand Forks 33-27, with Skinner getting the Away Star, and Amadio earning the Home Star for B.V.
In Friday’s 1-1 tie with the Spokane Braves, a goaltender’s duel highlighted a back-and-forth match up between the Hawks and the surprising Braves.
The Nitehawks fired 58 shots at Spokane goalie Ben Waslaski, while the Braves replied with 43 against Hawks puckstopper Sikkes in an uncharacteristically tame match up that saw only three penalties called throughout the game.
Hawks forward Aiden Jenner scored midway through the first period on a setup from Jang and Ross, and Kade Mohr replied for the Braves at 9:50 of the second.
The 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 five-minute overtime periods solved nothing, as B.V. outshot Spokane 15-5 in the extra frames.
Sikkes and Waslaski were named the game stars.
While a disappointing weekend, Jones remains confident that the upcoming break will see a fresh and resurgent Nitehawks team return to the ice on Dec. 28 when they host the Braves at 7:30 p.m.
The Nitehawks coach’s Christmas wish: “I’m hopeful we have good health,” said Jones. “It’s tough to play the game in our league shorthanded like that, and the way we want to play we want to have health, and play with good tempo and speed, and roll four lines. When you’re asking two-and-a-half lines to do it, it makes it a lot tougher.”
B.V. also plays Dec. 29 at the Beaver Valley Arena at 7:30 p.m. with a tilt against the Nelson Leafs.