KIJHL: Hawks, Rebels set to clash

An important stretch of games lay on the horizon for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.

An important stretch of games lay on the horizon for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks starting this weekend with two divisional games and one conference game on the calendar.

The Hawks host their Neil Murdoch division nemesis Castlegar Rebels Friday before hopping on the bus to take on the Grand Forks Border Bruins Saturday night, and then retuning home to play the Golden Rockets on  Sunday.

“We’re looking forward to getting back into playing our division, getting some points that will propel us into the New Year,” said assistant coach Jeremy Cominotto.

Thanks to a big four-point night from Dallas Calvin, the Hawks skated to a 5-3 win over Fernie Friday, but their six-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt with a 7-1 loss in Fernie on Saturday.

Still with three games against the Rebels, and another against the Nelson Leafs in the next two weeks, the Hawks can make up some more ground on the division leaders.

“We don’t feel like we’re too far out yet, especially with the amount of games we have against Castlegar and Nelson for the rest of the month . . . if we can manage to win those four games we feel like we will be within striking distance.”

The Leafs received a setback of sorts this week with the loss of 16-year-old forward Colton McCarthy to the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors.

“It’s hard to watch a player develop for a half a season, you kind of get attached,” Nelson coach Frank Maida told the Nelson Star. “He is a big part of our team, but it is a great opportunity for him.”

The veteran bench boss said McCarthy is the real deal.

Although the Leafs are happy to see one of their own make a huge leap forward in his hockey career, it is a blow to their offence, one which other teams, like the Nitehawks, will try to take advantage.

“I’m sure they’re going to miss him,” said Cominotto. “I mean we’re not too disappointed he won’t be on the ice, but at the same time it’s a developmental league and stuff like that happens.”

The Rebels meanwhile are led by Stuart Walton who is fourth in league scoring with 18-21-39.

Castlegar enjoys possibly the best goaltending tandem in the league with Connor Beauchamp sporting a 2.13 GAA and .924 save percentage, and Jordan Gluck a 2.45 GAA and a .918 save percentage.

The Hawks sit just seven points back of the second place Rebels. The puck drops at the Beaver Valley Arena at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and at 1 p.m. on Sunday.