After more than a year of being grounded, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks returned to the ice Aug. 26-29 to prepare for a new season.
The B.V. evaluation camp put almost 50 potential Nitehawks through three days of intense practices and four full scrimmages in an effort to make it to the next step – the Main Camp that starts Sept. 8.
The players competed throughout the camp, which culminated in a Blue and White game. Nitehawks president Stephen Piccolo was impressed with the turnout and in particular the quality of local skaters, and believes several will get invites to the Main Camp.
“We’re pretty excited,” said Piccolo. “We were very blown away by the up-and-coming local talent that we have and it looks like we could have a large local majority on the team.”
The Nitehawks will also see some returning players from the 2019-20 team whose season came to an end on March 14 during the Murdoch Division final versus the Nelson Leafs.
“We are getting some of those guys back, which is good, because that will give us a good leadership core, but mainly a fairly young team.”
The Nitehawks did not ice a team last year for what turned out to be a very brief three-game season for the KIJHL. Yet, Piccolo says the rebuild after a year off has gone very well.
“It hasn’t been difficult at all,” he said. “We just put the word out for the camp and people responded like crazy. We do have great scouts out and about, and Jeremy Cominotto is scouting and bringing in some really good talent.”
The Hawks staff recognizes that bringing players into a small town like Fruitvale poses some challenges, but Piccolo and the rest of the Nitehawks staff focus on the incredibly rich and successful history of an organization that has won 14 division titles, eight league titles, four Cyclone Taylor (provincial) championships, and a Western Canadian Keystone Cup championship.
“Our sell to the kids in Fruitvale is showing them the arena, showing them the talent we have, telling them to look up in the arena and see the banners that are hanging, and undoubtedly we have the best coach (Terry Jones) in the league so those are our selling features.”
The Nitehawks open their exhibition season versus the Creston Thundercats on Sept. 15 at the Beaver Valley Arena and host the Nelson Leafs on Sept. 17.
They will play seven exhibition games in all – two against Nelson, Grand Forks and Creston, and one versus the Castlegar Rebels at home on Sept. 21.
The Nitehawks open the KIJHL season in Nelson on Oct. 1 with the puck drop at 7 p.m., and their first home game goes on Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. when they host the Creston Thundercats.