The Beaver Valley Nitehawks head into a three-game weekend with a bolstered line up and two additions that could give the Hawks the spark they need going into the second half of the season.
Key contributors from last year’s Hawks team, Dan Holland and Riley Brandt, will lace them up when the team visits Spokane tonight.
Holland is coming off a stint in the Eastern Junior Hockey League, and Trail’s Riley Brandt will join the Hawks from the Trail Smoke Eaters.
However, to make space on the roster the Hawks dealt Michael Bell to Ridge Meadows and Nathan Pickett nearer to home in Spirit River, Alta. to play in the Northwest Junior League in return for future considerations.
According to Hawks coach Terry Jones, Bell had expressed interest in moving closer to home, despite being a clubhouse favourite and the team’s third highest point-getter with 13 goals and 14 assists in 27 games.
“We lost two good players, but we’ve gained two very good players, and they may bring a little more offence to our line up, and they certainly provide a lot of grit and character,” said Jones. “We’re sorry to see the guys go, and those are tough decisions to make, but getting Danny and Riley, they are huge acquisitions at this point.”
Holland and Brandt were key players in the Nitehawks run to the Neil Murdoch division final last year, where they lost in the seventh game in overtime to Castlegar.
Jones is hoping the addition of Holland and Brandt will make an impact, just as Holland’s arrival did last season. The Boston native joined the Hawks on Nov. 27 of 2012, and helped turn around a so-so start, ushering in a 14-2 run where the dynamic forward scored nine goals and added 12 assists over a 16 game stretch. He scored 21 goals and netted 40 points in 30 games, while Brandt, an intense competitor, registered 10-17-27 in 49 games for the Hawks.
Beaver Valley is coming off two wins on a road swing through the East Kootenay beating Golden and Columbia Valley handily, however they will have a tough test, if not tonight in Spokane, then Saturday certainly, when they hit the road again for a game against the Dynamiters in Kimberley.
In their first meeting Oct. 20 in Fruitvale the Dynamiters blew out the Hawks 6-2, so B.V. will certainly want to make a statement in Kimberley. And it doesn’t stop there as B.V. finally returns home for a Sunday afternoon game versus the Grand Forks Border Bruins.
“We have a really tough weekend,” said Jones, whose Nitehawks will also be helping out at Santa’s Breakfast at the Fruitvale Hall Saturday morning before heading to Kimberley. “It’s all okay. It’s all on how you approach it and we’re ready for it and looking forward to it.”
Having played 26 games, the Nitehawks are at the midway point of the season and currently sit in second spot behind Nelson with 38 points and fourth place overall in the KIJHL.
While the team has been stingy on defence allowing the least number of goals, 76, in the league, they have had their share of let downs particularly on the road where they have managed just six wins and suffered five of their seven losses (including one overtime loss).
“I think anytime you add or take away guys from your roster, you change the dynamic of the team so the thing that I see is that this weekend is going to be a weekend where we continue to build our identity as a team,” said Jones. “We had a problem with discipline (on the ice) and we did a few things in the last three or four games to be better with discipline, our penalties are down, and we’re starting to really get it.
“We have three tough game this weekend and hopefully game-by-game we’ll just get a little bit better every day.”
Beaver Valley will face Grand Forks at the Hawks Nest on Sunday with the puck drop at 1 p.m.