Ryan Edwards

Ryan Edwards

KIJHL: Beaver Valley gets big boost for final stretch

Ryan Edwards back on the ice for Beaver Valley Nitehawks

Amid a blast of controversy and an extended wait, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks finally welcomed a familiar face back into the fold last weekend.

The Nitehawks didn’t have to wait long to reap the rewards of Ryan Edwards’ return from a 30-day suspension he received from the Trail Smoke Eaters on Dec. 6.

Edwards started the season with the Hawks, but signed with Trail where he played a dozen games before deciding to leave. His decision resulted in a 30-day suspension, and culminated in last week’s blockade of the Smoke Eaters bus and suspension of Hawks coach Terry Jones.

Despite the volley’s lobbied by both side in the debate, Edwards has tried to concentrate on hockey and stay above the fray.

“I just try to keep it out of mind,” said Edwards. “I understand both sides, so I just didn’t want to say or do anything that would be wrong.”

His return just might be the extra push the Nitehawks need to recapture the Neil Murdoch division title.

Edwards had a six-point game with two goals and four assists in a 15-0 pummeling of the Grand Forks Border Bruins Sunday, and a goal and an assist in his first game back Saturday, a 4-4 tie against the Spokane Braves. The Trail native says he is just glad to be playing hockey again.

“It feels great. I’ve been waiting for it for quite a while so it’s finally nice to get back out there.”

To accommodate the talented 19-year-old forward, the Nitehawks have had to juggle lines, but as Jones says, “It’s a nice problem to have.”

Playing on a line with Dallas Calvin and Riley Brandt Sunday, the trio counted 18 points in total with Calvin netting three goals and four assists, and Brandt scoring twice and adding three helpers.

Calvin’s torrid pace has launched him to the top of the KIJHL scoring race with 58 points, on 24 goals and 34 assists, including 20 points in just his last six games.

Import Dan Holland also pitched in with a hat trick, while Jordan Magico and Archie McKinnon had three helpers each, and Walker Sidoni had a three-point game with a goal and two assists.

Recently acquired goaltender Jarrod Schamerhorn had a good start in the crease in his first game as a Hawk, stopping 20 shots for the shutout, while B.V. fired 51 at the Bruins net.

“It’s different (leaving Nanaimo) it’s a little colder here, but the guys are really good, really close, and the team just meshes,” said Schamerhorn.

The 16-year-old Kelowna native, came over from the BCHL Nanaimo Clippers where he received limited playing time, and while he admits it is tough getting moved near the end of the season he is looking forward to making a run at a KIJHL championship with the Hawks.

“It’s nice to come down here and get to play a lot more, and be around a good group of guys. It was nice in Junior A but I’m glad to be here.”

Also known more for his solid defensive play than his offensive exploits, the Nitehawks’ D-man Derek Lashuk counted six points in his last three games, and was nominated as the Hawks Player of the Month for December.

“I didn’t find out right away, but that’s pretty cool, I feel pretty honoured,” said Lashuk.

The 20-year-old Winfield native is part of a robust cadre of defenceman, with five returnees from last year in Nick Perez, Arie Postmus, Fraser Stang, and McKinnon, who with the addition of Sidoni make up arguably the best defensive corps in the league.

“There is five of us from last year, then Walks came from Nelson, so it’s been great,” Lashuk said. “There are a few different bodies (on this team), but I’d have to say I like our chances just as much as last year.”

The Nitehawks remain three points behind the Nelson Leafs and Castlegar Rebels who are tied for first in the division, with both teams holding a game in hand over the Hawks.

Beaver Valley will have to make each one of its final 10 games count if they are to overtake its strong division rivals; they start with a home-and-home tilt this weekend with Spokane. The teams face off at 7:30 Friday at the Beaver Valley Arena.