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Nitehawks hold off Rebels

Game 3 of Murdoch final tonight 7 p.m. in Fruitvale.

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks got their much-desired split in Castlegar - but just barely.The Hawks held off a Castlegar Rebels’ third-period rally to squeeze out a 7-6 win on Saturday to even their best-of-seven Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Neil Murdoch Division final at a game apiece.Game 3 goes tonight at the Beaver Valley Arena with Game 4 on Tuesday in Fruitvale. “The good thing is we have played well at home,” said Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones. “With our team every game we’re going to get a little bit better.”After falling 6-2 to the Rebels in Game 1 on Friday, the Nitehawks came out flying Saturday night.Ryon Sookro’s two goals, including one 14 seconds into the game, helped the Hawks dart out to a 5-2 lead after two periods.And when Keenan Patershuk scored in the third period, Beaver Valley held a commanding 7-3 lead with 14 minutes to play in regulation time.But that’s when the Rebel uprising began. With two minutes left in regulation time, Castlegar had cut the deficit to one goal thanks to its late-game scoring outburst.“I think both times we had four-goal leads we sat back and relaxed,” said Jones. “Once (Castlegar) gets its foot on the gas, they smell blood and go.”It wasn’t the first time in this playoff season that the Nitehawks have had trouble putting teams away. Nelson rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to beat Beaver Valley in Game 6 of its divisional semifinal.“It’s something we talked about (Saturday) and we’ve talked about in the past. It’s certainly something we need to be better at. As soon as you relax, one iota, the other team takes advantage.”The Nitehawks held on, thanks in large part to its power play, which went 4-for-4 on the night.Sookro finished with four points, Colton Donselaar had a pair of goals and Chris Derochie picked up five assists.Game 1 was the total reverse with Castlegar storming out to a 5-1 lead after 20 minutes. That chased Nitehawks’ starting goalie Mike Vlanich in favour of Zach Perehudoff, who gave up one goal the rest of the way.Tyler Collins and Dallas Calvin had Beaver Valley’s goals while Trail native Jamie Vlanich finished with three points for the Rebels.