The Beaver Valley Nitehawks officially hit the half-way mark of the season on Saturday, winning their 18th game in a 6-1 drubbing of the Golden Rockets.
The win was a bounce back effort for the Hawks after being eviscerated, 10-2, by the Creston Valley Thundercats on Friday.
“We didn’t play a very bad game last night.” said Hawks assistant coach Bill Birks following Saturday’s win. “They (Creston) outworked us, they out-skated us, they out-chanced us, they were a better team last night. But it wasn’t a 10-2 score.”
In Saturday’s match, the Hawks McKoy Hauk netted the winner and Braden Fuller had a big game scoring once and adding two assists to put him at 26 points on the season.
After the Rockets Layne Hunter was given a game for a check from behind, the Nitehawks pressed on the power play. Hauk took a pass at the point from Allan Pruss and blasted it through a screen and over the blocker of Golden goalie Keyon Bittner at 11:32 of the first period to put B.V. up 2-1.
The win over Golden marks the midway point of the season for the 18-5-1-0-2 Nitehawks that sit two points up on Castlegar for first place in the Neil Murdoch division.
Beaver Valley opened the scoring on a similar play but this time Jake Yuris took a blue line pass from Brett Roberts and blasted it by Bittner for a 1-0 lead less than five minutes in. The Rockets evened it three minutes later on their own power play when a shot rebounded off the back boards over the net and off the body of Jake Gudjonson and by a surprised Drake Poirier in the Hawks goal.
The Pruss brothers rounded out the scoring in the first period on a dazzling passing play where Allan finished a gift from Michael by wiring it off the post and in to give the Hawks a 3-1 lead midway through the period. Beaver Valley fired 20 shots on the Rockets goal in the first while Golden replied with eight shots on net.
Fuller made it 4-1 when he intercepted a pass, broke through the defence and fired a shot under the glove of Bittner just 17 seconds into the second for a shorthanded goal.
Despite outshooting the Rockets 22-12 in the second, that was all the Hawks would get until the third when Jace Weegar took a perfect pass in the slot from recent acquisition Nolan Percival and beat Bittner glove side just 15 seconds in. Twenty seconds later the former Nelson Leaf tallied his first goal as a Hawk, deftly batting the puck out of the air and over the shoulder of the Rockets goalie to make it 6-1.
Percival’s work ethic was outstanding in Saturday’s game, generating offence while putting in a solid two-way effort.
“I want to bring some speed to the team, and just be someone that can be relied on for hard work,” said Percival. “Last night was a wake-up call for us, we need to start playing, and tonight we got back on track and we need to keep it going.”
After spending three years with the Leafs, Percival admits it will take some adjusting, but his two-point night certainly helps the transition.
“It’s different, a transition for sure, so far they’ve been really nice over here, and getting to know everybody, so it’s been really good.”
As for the Hawks’ coaching staff, with injuries plaguing the team, they are looking for an injection of energy in adding Percival, a five-foot-eight, 18-year-old forward.
“Tonight he played well,” said Birks. “I don’t think his confidence is there … It’s going to take some time to get comfy, and he’s loving it here, and we’re glad to have him.”
Bittner was the Rockets’ star of the game stopping 49 of 55 shots while Poirier blocked 27 in the Hawks net. Fuller received player of the game for the Hawks.
On Friday, Lien Miller-Jeannotte scored a goal and added three assists in Creston’s 10-2 victory. The game was tied 1-1 after the first period, but the Thundercats broke it open with four goals in the second and five in the third, outshooting B.V. 28-27.
“We’ve played 26-27 games now and we haven’t played eight or 10 really good ones,” said Birks. “We have lots of injuries with Kyle Hope, Sam Swanson, and Lyle Frank out.
“Those guys are a huge part of this team. It just filters through everybody, their hard work, they all play the game the right way, they work hard they don’t take a shift off, and it filters through the bench, and we don’t have that right now.”
Hawks Notes: The Hawks also lost another goaltender last week.
Just when Billy Gorn was settling in nicely, the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League snatched him up, leaving B.V. with just Drake Poirier to tend the net. The Broncos found themselves short between the pipes after sending former Nitehawk goalie Brett Clark to the Calgary Mustangs of the AJHL in a trade a week ago.
“Terry’s been on the hunt probably for the last six weeks really, on and off,” said Birks. “We find one, lose one, find one, then one leaves. He has a few guys in mind, but the D1 carding deadline is coming. On Tuesday there’s lots of junior A cuts possibly, so we’ll wait and see.”
Today marks the Dec. 1 deadline where all Junior teams must reduce the number of carded players from 30 to 25.