The Beaver Valley Nitehawks swept aside the Nelson Leafs on Saturday with a 1-0 shutout victory to win the best-of-seven Neil Murdoch division semi-final series 4-0.
Fruitvale native Kyle Hope scored the only goal of the game at 18:18 of the second period, when he broke in on a 2-on-1, kept and wired the puck by Nelson goalie Josh Williams for the 1-0 lead and eventual victory.
“I thought we played a pretty solid overall game,’ said Beaver Valley coach and GM Terry Jones. “I just thought the compete level was really great all the way through. Lots of examples of guys playing hard and doing a great job. We had to battle. It was a difficult series even though it was four straight.”
Goaltender Tallon Kramer was outstanding, as he stopped 31 shots for the shutout and was named the Game Star for the Nitehawks. Kramer played back-to-back-to-back games after fellow netminder Brett Clark suffered an injury in Game 1 of the series. Kramer’s stats speak volumes as the Grande Prairie native posted three wins in three starts with a 1.33 goals-against-average, while stopping 82 of 86 shots for a jaw-dropping .953 save percentage.
“He had a great series,” said Jones. “Just all around really good play, he did a great job in terms of making the first save, playing the puck, all kinds of very positive things. With Brett being out for a little bit of time, he had a chance to run with the ball and did a great job of it.”
The Leafs outshot the Nitehawks 31-25 and were 0-4 on the power play, while BV went 0-for-2 in a relatively tame game compared to the intensity of the previous three match ups.
In the Hawks’ Game 3 victory, Tyler Ghiradosi scored twice including the winner and added an assist to lead the Hawks to a 6-2 win. Jace Weegar, Allan Pruss, and Devin Nemes also had three-point nights for the Hawks, as Kramer took the win in net stopping 24 shots, while BV fired 31 at Leaf goalie Williams.
After a scoreless but penalty riddled first period, Weegar opened the scoring for B.V. banging in a rebound at 14:09 of the middle frame to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. The Leafs responded immediately when Levi Hulston scored on a wrap-around to make it 1-1 just 39 seconds later.
But the Hawks went up for good when Nemes ripped a shot by the Leafs goalie at 6:53 to make it 2-1 to send it to the final frame, as the Leafs outshot the Hawks 8-7 in the period.
“It was a way tighter game than the score showed,” said Jones. “Again we just stuck with the process, and did a real good job.”
Ghiradosi extended the lead and scored what held up as the winning goal with 8:58 to play in regulation finishing a nice passing play with Nemes and Keillan Olson to give the Hawks a 3-1 cushion.
The Hawks power play then worked its magic with quick and precise puck movement as Dylan Heppler buried a dish from Blake Sidoni for a 4-1 lead at 3:52.
“I think the power-play goal we got late just changed the momentum, and forced them to expand and once they did that, we were able to take advantage of the situations that they gave us,” said Jones.
The Leafs tallied their own power play goal two minutes later, but two empty-netters by Tylers Ghiradosi and Hartman clinched Game 3 for the Hawks.
“When you are up two games to none, you aren’t grasping your stick quite as tight as the fellas who are down 2-0,” Leafs coach Mario DiBella told the Nelson Star. “[Beaver Valley] were a poised team. They took advantage of some of their opportunities and their goaltender made some terrific saves at the start there that really kept the score for them on the winning side.”
In the other series, the Grand Forks Border Bruins and Castlegar Rebels split a pair of overtime games to even their series at 2-2. The Bruins took Game 3, 3-2 on Friday, and the Rebels held on for a 6-5 win after blowing a 4-0 lead. They played Game 5 Monday night but the score was unavailable at press time.