The Beaver Valley Nitehawks can elimiminate the Nelson Leafs from the KIJHL’s Neil Murdoch division semifinal tonight when they drop the puck at the Beaver Valley Arena for Game 5.
After a 5-2 victory Monday, the Nitehawks beat the Queen City’s Leafs 3-2 in Game 4 Tuesday in Nelson to take a 3-1 stranglehold on the division playoff.
“You win games all kinds of ways,” said Nitehawks coach and GM Terry Jones. “Sometimes you get outstanding goaltending and we got that, sometimes the power play clicks for you, and a lot of times it’s the penalty killing, and penalty killing has probably been one of the biggest keys, because momentum of all of the games has really been dependant on it.”
After a scoreless first period in which B.V. outshot Nelson 9-8, the Hawks would get into penalty trouble in the second frame giving up four power plays to the Leafs. Nelson had plenty of opportunity outshooting the Hawks 17-6 in the period, but Beaver Valley would emerge with a 3-1 lead, that included Reid Anderson’s winning goal with 3:13 remaining in the period and some great goaltending from Carson Schamerhorn. Despite the outcome, Jones remains concerned with the undisciplined penalties.
“I still think, there is lots of room for improvement. We’re dealing with young men here and every once in a while their emotions get control of them and take over . . . We had a couple guys take dumb penalties (Tuesday), the dumb ones you can’t kill, the hard working ones are easy to kill.”
Nelson’s Patrick Croome scored first capitalizing on the power at the 11:30 of the middle frame. But Beaver Valley would tie it after the Leafs Aaron Brewer was sent off for boarding. Ross Armour would set up Taylor Stafford in front who put it by Nelson AP goalie Jason Mailhiot at the 7:24 mark.
Four minutes later Sam Swanson would set up Spencer McLean to give the Hawks the lead, and Reid Anderson would finish some hard work in front from Mitch Foyle and Armour to net the winner only 16 seconds after McLean’s marker to make it 3-1.
“I was happy with our overall game on both nights,” said Jones. “I thought we moved the puck well out of our end, our defence were really moving their feet, and when they do that we’re a better team. When they feel pressure and they don’t move their feet, it puts pressure on our wingers, and causes turnovers, and it causes us to be in our end more.”
The Nitehawks cranked it up in the third, limiting Nelson to just four shots while firing 13 at Mailhiot on three straight power plays to start the period. But the Leafs proved resilient and would find the back of the net on a power-play goal by Tyler Fyfe to cut the lead to 3-2 at 9:44. But the Hawks PK would come up big again killing a late penalty with under six minutes to play.
The Leafs outshot the Hawks 29-28 and went 2-for-8 on the power play while the Hawks were 1-for-5. Armour received the Game Star for the Hawks with his two assists.
Goaltending has been key in the series, with Schamerhorn replaced starter Drake Poirier in Game 2 and came up big, emerging as a steady and dependable presence between the pipes.
“Carson has been excellent,” said Jones. “It’s funny we started the playoff with Drake and he was unbelievable in Game 1, (a 5-0 shutout) and really he didn’t play poorly in Game 2 it was more of a momentum move, then Carson came in and played exceptional hockey. We know we have two guys who can play well and that’s really good to know as a coach.”
The series has been a bitter, physical battle, and while Castlegar and Spokane are locked in a 2-2 series tie, guaranteeing at least a Game 6, the Nitehawks would like nothing more than to oust the Leafs in Game 5 tonight at the Hawks Nest.
“The sooner that you can finish a series off the better it is for the future of the playoff round. But that being said, it’s one game, and would I like to win it and finish it, absolutely, but it’s sports anything can happen and I hope we’re just prepared and ready to play our game.”
The puck drops tonight at 7 p.m.