The Nelson Leafs Michael Crawford scores one of his three goals on the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Saturday to lead the Leafs to a 5-4 overtime victory to tie the best of seven series at one game apiece.

Nelson Leafs even series with OT win over Beaver Valley Nitehawks

It took over two extra periods before the Nelson Leafs beat the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 5-4 to even their playoff series.

The Nelson Leafs Rayce Miller scored at 13:11 of the third overtime period to lift the Leafs to a 5-4 victory over the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Saturday, and tie their Neil Murdoch division playoff at one game apiece.

The Nitehawks shutout the Leafs in Game 1 on Friday 5-0 but the Leafs’ Michael Crawford netted a hat trick to give Nelson a 4-2 lead after two periods, and despite a B.V. comeback in the third and a decided edge in overtime play, Nelson would find a way to hang on and pull out the victory.

B.V. opened the scoring when Allan Pruss deflected a Tyler Leicht shot past AP goalie Jason Mailhiot at 13:03 of the first period, but Nelson would respond on a Tyler Fyfe goal at 10:42.

Nelson would take the lead on the power play, when Miller sent a pass short side in front while drawing the goalie and d-man across the crease, leaving Crawford a wide open net to put the Leafs up 2-1 at 5:47.

The Hawks would get it back on a goal from Kyle Hope. After David Nemes gained the blue line, he made a quick pass to Hope who wired it blocker side on Mailhiot with just over two minutes to play. Crawford however would give Nelson a 3-2 lead before the period was out. The Penticton native gathered a pass from Matt MacDonald at centre ice, then streaked by the Hawks defence and backhanded it under the arm of Hawks starter Drake Poirier, chasing him from the net in favour of Carson Schamerhorn.

The Hawks outshot the Leafs 14-13 in the first, but Nelson played the Nitehawks tight in the second period giving B.V. little time and space to manufacture any good scoring opportunities, and it would be Crawford who scored the only goal of the period, breaking in on a 2-on-1 with Brendan Smith, and ripping one low blocker side for the hat trick at 17:51. B.V. biggest loss however came when the Neil Murdoch division’s top scorer and MVP was ejected from the game for a hit from behind early in the middle frame.

Despite the setback, the Nitehawks would mount a comeback in the third. Reid Anderson’s point shot found its way through traffic at 16:32 and fluttered past the Nelson goalie to make it 4-3, and with time winding down, Ross Armour would pick up the puck, rush down the right side, and fire a wrist shot at the goal. The puck squeaked through Mailhiot’s arm and lay waiting for Spencer McLean to bang it into the open cage with 1:26 remaining to send it to OT.

The Nitehawks outshot the Leafs 36-30 through three periods, and would control the first 10-minute overtime, and much of the second but could not beat Mailhiot or capitalize on a second overtime period power play. Sam Swanson came close when he burst over the blueline and rang one off the post midway through the second OT, but a tired and shorthanded Leafs team hung on, and Miller would score from behind the net as his centring pass caromed off the back of Schamerhorn and into the net. B.V. fired 22 shots at Mailhiot in the overtime periods, while Schamerhorn faced 15 Leafs shots. The Hawks were 0-for-6 on the power play while Nelson was 1-for-6.

In other Neil Murdoch division action the Spokane Braves beat the Castlegar Rebels 6-3 Saturday, after the Rebels won the opening match 4-3.

The Nitehawks next games go in Nelson on Monday and Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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