The Beaver Valley Nitehawks may not have soared quite as high as last season, but with the playoffs imminent the team is poised to make a long run to the KIJHL championship.
The Hawks travel to Spokane tonight, and return to the Hawks Nest for its final game on Saturday. While B.V. relinquished the Neil Murdoch division title to Castlegar last week, the Hawks can still clinch second spot with a pair of wins and two Nelson losses to Castlegar on the weekend.
Currently Beaver Valley has 66 points, two points back of Nelson. The teams will meet in the first round of the Murdoch division playoffs, with the higher seed receiving home-ice advantage.
“We’re still in the hunt for second place, we need some help but if we take care of our end of it, at the very least we want to be playing good hockey heading into the playoffs,” said assistant coach Jeremy Cominotto.
The Rebels swept the two games, 4-2 and 2-0, against B.V. last weekend, and the Hawks are hoping for the same Rebels result against Nelson this weekend. With one more win, Castlegar will also clinch the KIJHL regular season championship, giving them home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
If Nelson and Beaver Valley tie for second, the top seed will go to Nelson who has a better goals-for-and-against ration in the eight head-to-head games they split on the season, although B.V. won the last three games against the Leafs.
“Home ice is pretty big, I mean last year we had home ice all the way through and having that seventh game at home against Castlegar we felt was the difference,” said Cominotto. “Starting off at home every series was big because we’re able to get out to a lead in the series or at least head out tied. Home ice is always big you get your crowd behind you and the guys just feel more comfortable.”
The Hawks first must sweep the final two games against a Braves team that can be dangerous, with a recent 3-2 win over Castlegar. B.V. has beaten the Rebels five times this year and tied them once, but finishing off the year with two more wins is not a done deal, says Cominotto.
“Spokane has a hard working team, they have some pretty good goaltending and it’s always tough to play down in Spokane. (Spokane coach) Mike Bay always has a hard working team, I mean you know what they’re all about so there are no surprises. ”
The Nitehawks host Spokane on Saturday with the puck dropping at 7:30 p.m. at the Beaver Valley Arena.