KIJHL: Nitehawks battle Braves

Following a welcomed weekend off, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks are itching to get back on the ice tonight.

Following a welcomed weekend off, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks are itching to get back on the ice and will host the Spokane Braves tonight in KIJHL action.

With just one goalie and multiple injuries plaguing the team over the past few weeks, the break has helped Beaver Valley recuperate – to a degree.

“We have Ryan Terpsma back on defence, and we’ve also added a goaltender, Tallon Kramer, from the Grande Prairie Storm,” said B.V. Coach Terry Jones.

Kramer is a 19-year Grande Prairie native who played nine games for the Alberta Junior Hockey League team, and will likely get the start against Spokane tonight. As the Hawks open the second half of the season, with the acquisition of Kramer, the team is almost set, but for three crucial components.

The Hawks are still without the heart of their line up in captain Lyle Frank and forwards Sam Swanson and Kyle Hope. Swanson is day-to-day but Hope and Frank are not expected to return until the new year.

“We will continue to assess our roster until Jan. 10 (trade deadline); but we like the guys we have, and we just have to make sure we continue to get better,” says Jones. “We’re excited about our team and about the new additions too, so once you add Lyle, Kyle and Sam back into your line up it’s like adding three new players that have been out a considerable amount of time – it’s like a trade almost and we’re looking forward to having them back.”

The Braves meanwhile made a surprise move last week trading veteran goaltender Trevor Dilauro to the Revelstoke Grizzlies for goalie Michael Lenko of Gabriola Island and forward Kyle Donaldson of Kindersley, Sask. Dilauro earned Rookie of the Year and Goaltender of the Year honours for the Neil Murdoch division in 2014-15, however, the California native, like the Braves, had a tough start to this season, going 2-13-0-0 with a 4.23 goals against average and a .907 save percentage.

Spokane is mired in last place in the division with a 4-22-0-4 record, and has lost five games in a row. Kurtis Redding leads the team in all categories including points, 29, with 15 goals and 14 assists, and penalty minutes with 84.

The Hawks have put up an impressive, 18-5-1-2, record at the half-way point of the season, and will face Interior division teams in seven of their eight December games including tilts against the Nelson Leafs Friday, and the Rebels in Castlegar on Saturday.

“I think you always want to strive to be better,” said Jones. “But I am excited about where we are, what our record is considering how we played. We can still be a lot better in a lot of areas, and that’s just part of the process, the continuous process of get ting better and learning, and just figuring out how we have to play.”

The Castlegar Rebels took advantage of the Nitehawks idle weekend and won their sixth game in a row to take over top spot in the Murdoch division, two points ahead of B.V., however, the Hawks still have three games in hand on their Rebel rival.

Only the Kimberley Dynamiters (3) have fewer losses than the Hawks, and if the last couple years are any indication, the Nitehawks should soar even higher in the second half.

“We think that all the preparation, all the work starts to pay off in the second half. I always look at December then the December break, as key points to the season, because you hope your team comes back even more committed after they’ve been home and they come back with a renewed sense of vigour.”

Last year the Nitehawks were a perfect 9-0 in December. B.V. plays Spokane tonight at the Hawks Nest with the puck drop at 7 p.m.

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