The Beaver Valley Nitehawks should have been well rested Saturday night against the Sicamous Eagles as they took the previous night off in Nelson when they played the Leafs in Kootenay International Hockey League action on the weekend.
The Hawks managed to bounce back with a 5-1 win over Sicamous Saturday, after a complete wipeout at the hands of the Leafs Friday.
Since a Hawks 8-2 win to start the season, Nelson has taken three straight from the defending KIJHL champions, including an embarrassing 12-0 pasting on Friday.
“We questioned our mental preparation before the game,” said Hawks assistant coach Jeremy Cominotto. “We just didn’t think we were ready to go. A little bit of horseplay (before the game) and the mentality that we were going to take the two points before we even stepped on the ice.”
Two wins the previous weekend may have buoyed the Hawks’ confidence, but it was promptly sunk by the Neil Murdoch Division leading Leafs, as they counted three goals in the first 10 minutes, then added five more in the second, and three in the third, outshooting Beaver Valley 32-9 in the process.
“They got some quality guys but so do we, and I think after the past two games especially, we have got some bad memories of playing Nelson and that is something we’re going to have to work through.
“Obviously Nelson has a great team, we have to be better prepared when we go up against them and ready to go to work.”
The next night, was a completely different effort as the Hawks jumped out to a 5-0 lead against the Eagles, and dominated at both ends of the ice on their way to a 5-1 victory.
“It was more of an emotional game for us. We had a work ethic for 60 minutes and we did a lot of things really well, especially early on.”
A rabid forecheck caused some early turnovers that the Hawks capitalized on, and a stubborn defence and solid goaltending was more what fans at the Hawks’ Nest have come to expect.
The Hawks’ Russell Mortlock opened the scoring, finishing a nice play from Nick Perez at 2:25 of the first period. Connor Brown-Maloski then netted the game winner at 9:27 of the first period converting a pass from Archie McKinnon to put Beaver Valley up 2-0.
Fraser Stang notched his first goal of the season, on his way to a Gordie Howe hat trick, as he picked up an assist and went toe-to-toe with Collin Mathieson in the third period.
The Hawks took a 4-0 lead on the power play, when Derek Lashuk blasted one by Sicamous goaltender Jack Surgenor and Kurt Black completed the scoring a minute into the third.
Travis Beekhuizen had a solid game between the pipes for the Hawks, stopping 34 shots, and taking first-star honours, while Lashuk, and Brown-Maloski were named second and third stars respectively.
The ability for the team to bounce back after suffering potentially demoralizing losses is some consolation for the Hawks’ coaching staff.
“It’s just the inconsistency of having young players and having 13 rookies in the lineup every night is tough. It’s just the work ethic that needs to be in place in order to give yourself an opportunity to win the game.”