In a time of uncertainy, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks coaching and managing staff forge on, intent on building a team in expectation of the KIJHL reboot.
The Nitehawks announced that Trail native Bradley Ross would captain the team this year, while also committing a number of talented players in anticipation of the KIJHL’s Oct 2. start.
For Nitehawks GM, Jamie Cominotto, the selection of Ross as team captain was simple.
“What’s more to say, than a five-year local player who has always done what’s asked of him, and seen the ups and downs of championship teams and first round knockouts.”
The veteran Ross has been one of the Nitehawks top players, leading the team in scoring last season and finishing second overall in the KIJHL with 37 goals and 77 points, while playing in all 49 games for the Neil Murdoch Division champions.
Ross joined the team in 2016-17, winning a league championship and hoisting the Cyclone Taylor Cup. Last season was a milestone for the 19 year old, tallying his 100th goal and 200th point, and earning the Murdoch Division MVP.
The Nitehawks look forward to hitting the ice but, with the late start, will likely delay their August camp.
“We are looking to set up our camp in the beginning part of September,” said Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones. “We’ll be a little bit more delayed than normal. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re planning as if it’s going to be a go.”
Jones expects up to a dozen players return from last season, however, every year there is a degree of uncertainty as players attend Junior A camps or pursue other options.
“Our guys are off to go to Junior A camps so you never quite know until you see the whites of their eyes.”
B.V. also normally holds a development camp that brings in young prospects and introduces the players to the Nitehawks culture and the community of fans and volunteers, but its status is on hold.
“There are so many unanswered questions right now,” said Jones. “For example, we have a camp where we give young kids an opportunity to get a taste, even though they might not be ready to play, they get a taste of things and kind of have that dream of playing for us at some point. That’s what we’ve been doing these last few years is to get kids the opportunity to play, put our jersey on, and be a little bit a part of what we are, and they keep striving towards that.
“But I just don’t know if that’s going to be in the cards this year.”
The KIJHL start date is dependent on the current pandemic and its ability to travel throughout the province and into Washington State.
A schedule has yet to be finalized as the 20 KIJHL teams prepare for the season, with many questions still lingering.
“Like everybody else, we’re hoping that with the virus that everything stays positive and we keep trending in the right direction,” said Jones. “I think everyone’s trying to see some semblance of normalcy, that’s the way I’m approaching it … and I’m hopeful that we can have a year.”