The Beaver Valley Nitehawks found their scoring touch on the weekend as they took five-of-six points in three weekend KIJHL matches to move within two points of top spot in the Neil Murdoch division.
The Hawks fell 6-5 to the Grand Forks Border Bruins in overtime on Friday, before bouncing back with a 6-5 win over the Chase Heat Saturday, and a 6-4 victory over the Spokane Braves on Sunday.
“We got better as the weekend went on,” said Nitehawks assistant coach Kevin Limbert. “Today (Sunday) was a very good effort up and down the line up. I think that’s what was one thing we were missing in our first game (versus Grand Forks), we had some great performances but up and down the line up we didn’t have all 20 guys going.”
On Sunday, Mitch Foyle scored two goals and added two assists and Brayden Horcoff netted the winner at 13:39 of the second period as the Hawks fired 62 shots at the Braves goaltender in the 6-4 win.
Horcoff knocked down a Lyle Frank point shot in front of Brave goalie Trevor Dilauro and deked to the back hand to give the Hawks a 5-3 lead, in what was B.V.’s fourth win in five games.
The weekend’s 17-goal outburst could be a turning point for a Hawks’ team that was struggling offensively, averaging just over two goals per game. B.V. again outshot the opposition in all three matches and dominated puck possession, but their finish around the net proved the difference.
“I think earlier on in the year we were doing a lot of good things down low in their end, just enough to get to the net. We were content to just shuffle the puck along the wall, whereas this weekend and, progressing forward, we’ve been getting to the net a lot more, had a lot more traffic, and just getting a lot hungrier in and around the net.”
Spokane opened the scoring 28 seconds into the game, but B.V. replied when Jace Weeger tipped in a Reid Anderson point shot at 17:29 of the first.
Anderson would get his second assist of the game at 10:57 when he dished to Foyle who made a slick move around two defenders to gain the slot, then rifled a wrist shot top corner to put the Hawks up 2-1 midway through the opening period.
However, 41 seconds later, Spokane tied it when Garrett Graham dug a puck out from behind the net and beat Carson Schamerhorn with a quick move in front.
But Andrew Miller would put the Hawks out front for good when his point shot deflected off a Braves defenceman and by Dilauro at 6:18, and Foyle would make it 4-2 before the period was out, when he broke down the right side and lasered a top-of-the-circle shot over the Brave goalie’s glove.
The teams would trade goals in the second period, including Horcoff’s winner as the Hawks outshot the Braves 25-7 in the middle frame.
Hawks rookie Spencer McLean would bang in a loose puck to net his first of the season with assists going to Foyle and Ross Armour midway through the third to make it 6-3. Jonny Marzec netted his second of the night to round out the scoring at 8:49, as B.V. outshot Spokane 62-23.
Foyle was particularly effective on the weekend netting eight-points on four goals and four assists, including a couple highlight reel markers. The 18-year-old Fruitvale native rocketed to third in league scoring, and attributes much of his and the team’s recent scoring success to a solid work ethic leading up to the weekend.
“We had a full team effort today . . . and that’s what it takes for us to win, we need all guys going for 60 minutes,” said Foyle. “Guys just bearing down in practice, scoring lots in practice, it just carries onto the game.”
Horcoff also had a productive weekend getting three helpers in the 6-5 victory over the Chase Heat on Saturday. Ross Armour scored the winner, taking a McLean pass in front of the net and making a quick move to the backhand to beat the Heat goalie 1:45 into overtime to give the Hawks a 6-5 victory.
Tyler Hartman led the Hawks with a pair of goals, while Foyle and Weeger each scored once and Jacob Boyczuk had a two-point night with a goal and an assist. Drake Poirer got the win in net for the Hawks.
On Friday it was Nitehawks’ defenceman Miller who scored with 2:26 remaining to tie the game at five and force an overtime with the Border Bruins. Yet, Grand Forks leading scorer Max Newton would net the winner 42 seconds into the four-on-four frame to give the Bruins the victory in their first meeting with the Nitehawks this season. Foyle netted two goals and an assist, while Kyle Hope, Weeger, and Miller rounded out the scorwing. The Hawks outshot the Border Bruins 35-25.
“We had some breakdowns that ended up in our net and we’ll have to address those and make some adjustments,” added Limbert. “ I think it’s just a little bit of communication, between our low forward and our D. But the best defence is a good offence and we’re pushing the puck up ice, and hurrying and grinding them out in their own end, and so a couple adjustments but overall pretty happy with how we played.”