The Nelson Leafs spoiled a spirited effort from the Beaver Valley Nitehawks at the Hawks Nest Tuesday night coming back to seize a 7-6 victory in the final minutes and extend their winning streak to 10 games.
The Leafs grabbed sole possession of top spot in the KIJHL on Colton McCarthy’s winner with 1:47 to play in the third period.
McCarthy batted down an attempted clearing pass in front of the Nitehawks net and lifted it over Hawks’ goalie Zach Perehudoff to break a 6-6 tie. The Hawks outshot the Leafs 45-33 and carried the play most of the night but a potent Leafs offence capitalized on every wayward bounce and fledgling opportunity.
“I think we had some committed efforts, but I don’t think we had all 20 oars in the water tonight, and thats what it takes to win hockey games at this level,” said assistant coach Kevin Limbert.
The Nitehawks jumped out to a 4-2lead thanks to three first-period goals from Kurt Black whose relentless forecheck pressured the Nelson defence all night.
“I was moving the puck in, lots of energy, and playing the body,” said Black after the game. “We just have to work as a team, get pucks to the net, and crash the rebounds to be more successful.”
Nelson drew even in the second on goals from Aaron Dunlap at 10:19 and Colton Schell with a power play marker at 1:52. But before the second period expired, the Hawks struck again. A persistent attack from Hawk forward Levi Kress kept the Leafs hemmed in their own zone, and his efforts would pay off when a point shot from Arie Postmus bounced off Nelson goalie Cody Boeckman, right to Kress and into the net for a 5-4 lead heading into the third.
The Leafs would not be denied, however, as the KIJHL scoring leader, Schell, netted his hat trick on another power-play goal. With Nitehawk defenceman Blake Acuri down after blocking a heavy point shot, Schell walked in and beat Perehudoff glove side to tie the game at five with 15:12 to go in the period.
B. V. reclaimed the lead on their own PP, when Dallas Calvin feathered a perfect pass back to Danny Vlanich on the point. Vlanich wired a shot top shelf to put the Hawks up 6-5 midway through the third.
Nelson’s Aaron Dunlap exploited a bad Nitehawk penalty in the offensive zone, and would bury his second of the night off the face off to even the game.
The Hawks swarmed the Nelson zone looking for the winner, yet the give away to McCarthy late would settle it.
The Nitehawks have struggled offensively the last few games, but were able to generate ample scoring chances against the Leafs Tuesday, a promising response following the last two results against the Leafs.
“There’s definitely some positives, we got a lot more scoring touch around the net, especially I thought most of our goals were really hard working goals,” said Limbert. “We have to focus on breakdowns. Breakdowns are going to happen throughout the period of the game . . . we need to ensure that the second wave of support is there so when the breakdowns do happen they don’t cost us.”