The Beaver Valley Nitehawks are KIJHL champions for the second time in three years as the Hawks dominated the Okanagan-Shushwap Conference champion Kamloops Storm on Friday at the Beaver Valley Arena with a 6-0 victory.
Dallas Calvin scored twice, including the winner, and Brett Clark stopped 30 shots for the shutout as the Nitehawks reeled off three straight wins to take the league championship in Game 6.
The Hawks found themselves down two-games-to-one in the championship series, and looked to be in trouble. However, a gutsy 5-3 win at home Tuesday and an 8-3 drubbing of the Storm in Kamloops on Thursday set up the opportunity to win it at home and capture their seventh KIJHL title in the Hawks Nest on Friday.
“I thought tonight was an awesome game,” said Nitehawks’ head coach and GM Terry Jones. “We really played our game. We were disciplined, got those early goals and we really played a rock-solid game.”
While the Nitehawk’s dominated Game 6, for Jones the turning point came in Game 5 when the Hawks weathered a first-period Storm where Kamloops outshot them 18-8, yet, B.V. led 2-1 heading into the second.
“Dan Holland scored a goal with about a minute left in the first period and after that we just took over the game, and Ryan Edwards made some unbelievable plays in the second period, and the game turned around. But I just thought the whole thing was Brett’s steadiness in the first period.”
Edwards would score four straight goals in the second and beginning of the third period to give the Hawks a 6-2 cushion on their way to the 8-3 victory.
With the Nitehawks confident and the Storm sensing the end was imminent, Kamloops came out aggressive in Game 6. However, a Brock Balson penalty 27 seconds into the game set the tone for the Storm the rest of the night as the Hawks would make them pay 14 seconds later. Calvin took a pass from Ryan Edwards and sniped a wrister past starter Liam MacLeod. The goal would stand up as the winner as the Nitehawks outshot the Hawks 15-7 in the first period, and the Storm took a steady stream of undisciplined penalties, while the Hawks kept their composure.
Calvin would score again on a power play, his 19th of the playoffs on another set up from Edwards, making an dazzling move to get by the defenceman and then roofing a quick shot by the Storm goalie to give B.V. A 2-0 lead at 7:19.
“We finally found our game plan,” said Calvin. “We hadn’t played against them all year so didn’t know what to expect. We had a rough start, but we finally found our way in the last few games and finally played as a team and it definitely showed.”
Edwards and Holland would team up on a pretty 2-on-1 passing play 43 seconds into the middle frame with Holland finishing to make it 3-0, then with the Nitehawks shorthanded, Calvin would make a perfect no-look pass from his own blue line to a breaking Braden Fuller who made no mistake on the breakaway, going forehand, backhand before sliding it through MacLeod’s pads to make it 4-0 Hawks.
“I heard him yell when I got the puck, and I just spun and threw it up there, and hoped for the best and luckily it went right on his tape,” said Calvin.
Edwards, 20-23-43, and Calvin, 19-20-39, led all players in playoff scoring, but it was contributions and solid play up and down the lineup that won it for the Hawks.
In the third period, the Nitehawks would put an exclamation point on the series with goals from Mitch Foyle and a power-play marker from Russell Mortlock, as the Hawks outshot the Storm 48-30, going 3-for-10 on the power play while Kamloops was 0-for-3.
It was the second shutout of the playoffs for Clark who was steady throughout the series and spectacular when he needed to be.
“He’s just been unflappable all year, he’s been steadily outstanding and he’s such a calm, calm kid, he takes care of business every day, works hard at his game and I’m just so happy for him because he’s such a great kid,” said Jones.
In 19 playoff games Clark earned 14 wins, a 2.38 goals against average, and a .925 save percentage.
“I do a lot or work with our goalie coach Alex (Evin of NL Goal), he’s been helping me out all year so I think I’ve gotten a lot better since then,” said Clark. “I’m excited to go into every game, some games I get more shots than other nights, but I just try to give my team a chance to win every night.”
Like most championships, the KIJHL title is elusive, yet the Nitehawks have now won it in two of the past three years led by returning three-year veterans Edwards, Calvin, McKinnon, and Fraser Stang and of course Jones who has coached the Hawks for all seven of it’s KIJHL championships and two provincial titles.
“I think the they’re all a little bit different (championships), it’s so hard to win,” said Jones. “It’s never easy I think this is one of the hardest years, we had some really tough series, Nelson is a hell of a team, Creston was resilient as heck and this was a very good hockey team we beat, so it was a battle all the way.”
Jones had an inkling this year could be special when Edwards and team captain McKinnon committed to playing another year with the Hawks.
“This is what we were shooting for. When Ryan and Archie came back to me in the summer saying they wanted to come back and they wanted to win, we started to build our team, and those two guys have been the cornerstone. Guys filtered back and we just got stronger and stronger. But it doesn’t matter how many great players you have, everybody has to buy into the team concept and that’s what we’ve done.”
It was a good run for the whole organization, that filled the rink throughout the playoffs. The team will briefly savour the victory as they begin preparation for the Cyclone Taylor Cup, the provincial championship, that starts Thursday in Nelson.
“It’s been a great day for us,” said Jones. “When you have a chance to fill our rink like this and have a night like tonight, it’s fantastic. All the hard work all the effort to have a good team, our executive, our president, all the volunteers they are all part of this and that’s what it’s all about.”