The Beaver Valley Nitehawks came out guns blazing against the Spokane Braves on Tuesday, bombarding the Braves’ net with 57 shots on their way to a 6-2 victory at the Hawks’ Nest.
The previously unbeaten Hawks lost their first game of the season to the Braves, 2-1, on Oct. 3, despite outshooting Spokane 45-23. Beaver Valley made sure that scenario wouldn’t recur scoring four times in the first period to take a 4-1 lead on their way to their ninth win of the season.
“I thought this was really one of the first games we played the whole 60 minutes,” said Hawks assistant coach Bill Birks. “We wanted to get lots of shots on these guys as both goalies are dynamite.”
The Pruss brothers teamed up for the winning goal with 1:17 left in the first period, when Allan Pruss found the back of the net on a set up from Michael Pruss and Jake Yuris to give the Hawks a 3-1 lead.
The victory came at a time of transition for the Hawks. Following goalie Brandon Wells’ departure to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, B.V. had no back up on Tuesday, and only Drake Poirier to man the pipes.
“We had a guy come into Nelson on Saturday night and play; he’s not Brandon Wells but we think we have that with Drake (Poirier) already,” said Birks. “He was good, but we’re still looking for one (goalie) and I think Terry (Jones) will find one, he does every time, and he always gets a high-end guy in here.”
Fruitvale native Kyle Hope netted his first of two on the night for the Hawks banking a behind-the-net shot off Spokane goalie Trevor Dilauro to make it 1-0 just under three minutes into the game with assists going to Sam Swanson and Tyler Leicht. A defenceman, Leicht was impressive in his first game back for B.V., netting two assists after sitting out the first 10 games recovering from knee surgery.
“The team was ready since the last time we played them,” said Hope. “This time we came out doing what we wanted and played hard. We know they have a good goalie we just had to get lots of shots on them tonight and beat them.”
Braden Fuller made it 2-0, banging in a Dylan Heppler pass at the side of the net, before Spokane replied drawing the Braves within one when Connor McIntosh shoveled in a rebound after Poirier made a good pad save off an Elliot Plourde shot.
Pruss netted the winner 18 seconds later, and Blake Sidoni deftly redirected a Lyle Frank point shot past Dilauro to give the Hawks a 4-1 lead with 57 seconds remaining in the opening frame, as B.V. outshot the Braves 20-5 in the period.
The Braves Mason Jones made it 4-2, the result of a bad give away behind the Hawks net. But 31 seconds later Hope restored the three goal lead midway through the middle frame. Swanson won a faceoff deep in the Spokane end, and Hope jumped on the puck and beat Dilauro short side to score his fifth goal of the season.
Michael Pruss rounded out the scoring with 8:15 left in the third period as Frank’s point shot caromed off the cross bar and off Pruss’ chest and into the net. The goal matches Michael’s total from all of last year, scoring his sixth marker of the season and third point on the night.
“Those two guys (Hope and Swanson) play balls out every shift, every practice, every game – if everybody worked like that it would be a perfect world, and the Prusses too they seem to always give us a spark when we need it and they did again tonight,” said Birks.
The Nitehawks also added the Ghiradosi brothers from Trail to the roster last week. Twins Tyler and Devin are 16-year-old forwards and bring both size and skill to the Hawks.
“There is some raw talent that is untapped, that both me and Terry (Jones) and the coaching staff think that there is something there that is going to make these guys into two really good hockey players,” said Birks. “They’re big kids, they’re headsy, they move the puck well, they have lots to learn, but their offensive instincts, their game, and their battle level is through the roof.”
B.V. outshot the Braves 57-20 on the night with Poirier collecting his fourth win of the season, while Hope was named player of the game for B.V. and Connor McIntosh for Spokane. The Nitehawks host the North Okanagan Knights on Friday at 7:30 p.m., before heading to Grand Forks to face the Border Bruins on Saturday.