The Beaver Valley Nitehawks won 4-of-5 games in a seven-day span to take a strangle hold on the Neil Murdoch division of the KIJHL, capping it off with a 6-5 overtime victory over the Spokane Braves on Sunday.
The Hawks’ 24th win comes after a 3-2 victory over the Revelstoke Grizzlies on Friday, as well as a 4-1 drubbing of Nelson Tuesday, and a 5-3 victory over Castlegar Rebels on Monday. B.V.’s only loss in the month of December came on Wednesday, a 4-3 New Years Eve setback in Nelson against the Leafs.
“We’re fighting some injuries obviously, got a lot of key guys in the stands, and some sickness going around too,” said Nitehawks assistant coach Kevin Limbert. “The boys competed hard on Friday and competed hard this afternoon as well. A lot of guys really stepped up and took the roles that needed to be filled with those key guys out.”
With five games in seven days, injuries took their toll on the team following the Christmas break, and the Hawks were without defencemen Lyle Frank and Andrew Miller and forwards Jacob Boyczuk, David Nemes and Jace Weegar. B.V. inserted Blake Sidoni, and Kadrian Klimchuk, into the lineup and the young Kootenay Major Midget Ice players didn’t disappoint as both Sidoni and Klimchuk counted a goal and two assists between them.
“Playoff intensity, you know it’s been a playoff atmosphere and we’ve treated this last week as a playoff mentality and the level of intensity you can expect in two months, so we’re happy with the greasy win.”
Defenceman McKoy Hauk netted the winning goal and fellow blue-liner Walker Sidoni had a goal and two assists to lead B.V. to the gritty victory that saw over 40 minutes of penalties called in the game. With 39 seconds remaining in the first overtime period, Hauk’s seemingly harmless point shot deflected off the Braves defenceman skate and by a stunned Spokane goalie Jon Manlow to hand the Braves their fourth overtime loss of the season and drop them to four points back of Castlegar for third place in the division. The win puts the Hawks five points up on Nelson who dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to 100 Mile House Wranglers on Sunday, and a 3-2 decision to Revlestoke on Saturday.
Call-up Blake Sidoni opened the scoring for the Nitehawks at 17:18 when the Midget Ice forward jumped on a rebound off a Tyler Hartman shot and fired it into the open side. Spokane returned the favour 80 seconds later when Kurtis Redding shovelled in his own rebound to tie it at 1-1.
Then with B.V. down two men, Dillon Bogart wired a shot from the slot, high glove side on Carson Schamerhorn to give the Braves a 2-1 edge heading into the second despite being outshot by the Hawks 13-9.
Less than six minutes into the middle frame, Hawks forward Kyle Hope ripped a shot by Manlow to tie it, and after Bogart restored the Braves lead by tipping in a Johnny Marzec pass, Hope would score his second of the night taking a nifty dish from Klimchuck down low, and making a move to the backhand to beat the Braves’ goalie and tie the game once again.
Taylor Stafford would give the Hawks the 4-3 lead, after Manlow kicked out a Walker Sidoni point shot, Stafford gathered up the rebound and backhanded it in. Spokane’s Redding would tie it at four before the period was out, as the Nitehawks outshot the Braves 22-12 in the second period alone.
Tanner Stoltz put the Braves up 5-4 on a great individual effort, toe-dragging the puck through his legs as he burst by the Hawks d-man, cut in front, then slid the puck through the five-hole of Schamerhorn with 17:14 remaining.
But the Hawks would keep coming and Walker Sidoni would get the equalizer jumping up into the play and banging in the loose puck after an Allan Pruss shot was mishandled by Manlow with 11:32 to play.
“I just jumped up into the rush, and Prussy threw it at the net, and I just banged it home – pretty easy,” said Sidoni. “For being away for three months, coming back and stepping in like that feels pretty good.”
Despite his late start with the club Sidoni’s veteran presence made an instant impact as the team lost just once since his return Dec. 6. The Trail native has already surpassed his last-year totals of two goals and nine points in 37 games, scoring four times and adding nine assists in just 11 games this season.
Sidoni says he’s happy to take on a more offensive role this season, and after the prolonged stretch of success, believes Beaver Valley just may have another championship season in the works.
“Every Nitehawk team is different and this year we have four lines that can score on any given night. We don’t have to look to just one or two lines.” said Sidoni.
“Especially, this little stretch we’ve had with the winning streak, I think we’ve found out what kind of team we are and what we need to do to win.”
The Hawks would kill off two late penalties as they outshot the Braves 50-30 on the night, going 2-for-7 on the power play while the Braves went 1-for-7. Allan Pruss also had a three-point night for the Hawks, while Klimchuk had two assists.
Despite the marathon week, Limbert says that fatigue had little to do with the team’s performance.
“I think our pace was pretty good. Spokane played us really hard today, and I was really impressed with how Revelstoke played us on Friday. They played a really tough, competitive game, they were physical and on the body. You have to find ways to win those games.”
On Friday, the Hawks trailed the Grizzlies 2-1 heading into the third period, but Allan Pruss would tie it at 14:41 and Leicht would net the winner with just over 12 minutes to play in the final frame, as well as get player of the game nod for the Hawks. B.V. Outshot Revelstoke 31-30 with Schamerhorn getting the win in net for B.V.