The Beaver Valley Nitehawks topped off training camp with their first pre-season exhibition tournament over the Labour Day weekend.
The Nelson Maple Leafs and Grand Forks Border Bruins joined a split squad of Nitehawks at the Beaver Valley Arena in a round robin format, with the top two teams facing off Sunday afternoon.
“The weekend went fantastic, we love the competition of having Nelson and Grand Forks here, it gave all our young players an opportunity to really play in some good intensity scrimmages, and it really showed who was capable of playing at a higher level,” said Nitehawks General Manager Terry Jones.
Beaver Valley 2 beat B.V. 1 in the semi-final 10-5 and went on to play Nelson who finished first in the round robin.
In the final match, Nelson outgunned the home team, 7-5, in a close and lively game.
The tournament along with last week’s training camp gave new recruits and returning veterans ample opportunity to showcase their talents.
Younger players that impressed Jones and the coaching staff include Austin Sager, Justin Ghiradosi, Nolan Handley, Brandon Sookro, Luke Reimer and goalie Angus Campbell.
“They’re young guys who bought in exactly the way we like to do things, they worked really hard every shift, and bought into playing hockey the right way, so I was really pleased with how they did.”
The difficult decision of selecting two 16 year olds remains, in addition the team needs to pare down their roster to about 20 players over the next four exhibition games, prior to the opening season game on Sept. 16.
Even then, the team lineup won’t be firmly established until the Junior ‘A’ teams finalize their rosters by the BCHL opening date of Sept. 23.
Jones hopes to pick up a couple late cuts from BCHL teams but due to the late start to the season, he is also concerned about keeping younger guys on who have school commitments, living arrangement and other opportunities to deal with.
“You can’t keep kids hanging around for a month long tryout, you have to eventually make some commitments.”
Jones did receive some good news; the Nitehawks will see the return of Keanan Patershuck, at least for a while. The 18-year-old forward scored 11 goals and 14 assists for the Nitehawks in 40 games last year.
A good core of local guys will lace them up for the team this year, with the possibility of 8-10 imports.
“When we have more local players, we have more fans . . . It’s unbelievable and I think the last few years our fan support has been incredible because of that reason.”
Beaver Valley hosts Creston at home tomorrow at 7 p.m. and Fernie at 7:30 on Friday.