The Beaver Valley Nitehawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held on for a 3-2 victory in a New Years Eve afternoon tilt at the Nelson and District Community Centre Tuesday.
With the Leafs two-men short for the second time in the middle frame, Riley Brandt scored what would prove to be the winner at 4:34, giving the Nitehawks a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead going into the final frame.
It was the ninth win in a row for the Nitehawks, and its third victory over the Nelson Leafs in the month of December, as the Hawks recovered from a 10-point deficit at the end of November to gain top spot on Sunday.
Mitch Foyle got the visitors on the board first, scoring on a scramble in front of Nelson netminder Adam Maida with less than three minutes to go in the opening period.
The second period was a chippy affair with both squads spending time in and out of the penalty box. At one point it was standing room only as four Leafs were in the box for various offences.
The Hawks extended their lead to 2-0 at the 14-minute mark of the second when Dallas Calvin scored on the power play.
Beaver Valley ran into penalty trouble in the final stanza, but Nelson could not capitalize on their chances. However, newcomer Adam Hodge got Nelson on the board with just over six minutes to play in the game, and four minutes later, Nolan Percival scored his sixth of the season to narrow the gap to one goal.
The Leafs continued to put on the pressure and despite pulling the goaltender for the final 90 seconds, could not find the equalizer.
Hawks outshot the Leafs 28-26 and will play the Spokane Braves on Saturday at the Beaver Valley Arena, with the puck drop at 7:30 p.m.
Spokane has won five of its last seven games, including handing the Hawks their latest loss, a 3-2 overtime victory on Dec. 6. The Braves in the meantime have overtaken the Grand Forks Border Bruins for fourth spot in the Neil Murdoch division and are just seven points back of Castlegar Rebels.