If the Beaver Valley Nitehawks were tired, they didn’t show it on Sunday in KIJHL pre-season action, beating the Spokane Braves 4-2 in their seventh-game in seven-days odyssey.
Shawn Rowe scored the winner on the power play at 17:15 of the second period, blasting a point shot by a screened Braves goalkeeper Jake Holden to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead.
The Nitehawks carried an exaggerated lineup of about 30 players for the stretch of matches, including a number of 15-year-old prospects. While B.V. lost its first two games, the team got better as the week wore on, winning four of its last five games including a 13-1 pummeling of Castlegar Rebels Friday and a convincing 6-2 win over Nelson Saturday.
“It’s been an interesting grind, different than normal, but I think very positive,” said Nitehawks coach and GM Terry Jones. “We’ve been able to get a lot of young guys some ice, we’ve been able to assess our team, our players, and now we have some difficult decisions to make and move forward.”
Trail’s Brad Ross opened the scoring at 17:03 of the first period, taking a pass from Christian Macasso and wiring a snapshot top corner. But the Braves would reply tying the game midway through the period when Paxton Malone finished a 2-on-1 with Josh Fisher.
Spokane would take a 2-1 lead on a pretty play from Fisher as he faked Hawks’ goalie Brandon Wells to the ice, then beat him on the wrap around.
But the Hawks tied it before the period was out on a great effort from Aiden Browell. The Nitehawks forward would bust down the left side, go around the defenceman and curl behind the net, then feed Sam Swanson on the doorstep who put in his own rebound to tie it at two with 4:09 to play in the period. Nitehawks returnee Jace Weegar would make it 4-2 with 8:12 to play on a nice setup from Dillan Heppler and Braden Fuller to complete the scoring.
“I think over the seven games, you’ve seen more and more of our team identity come out in the games,” said Jones. “A more hard-working brand, good tempo, good pace, rolling the lines. We haven’t really done any systems work, but you can see they are picking up on the cues we’re talking about during the pre-games and things like that. I mean the season starts Friday, and we have one more test (tonight) to make the final evaluation of our roster.”
The Hawks will play their final exhibition match tonight against Creston at 7 p.m. at the B.V. Arena in Fruitvale. The home opener goes on Saturday against the Kelowna Chiefs with the puck drop at 7:30 p.m.