The Beaver Valley Nitehawks are off to a great start to the season, taking a pair of games this weekend against division rivals.
The Nitehawks won 3-1 Friday against the Spokane Braves, outshooting them by a 43-19 margin, then faced bitter rival the Rebels from Castlegar on Saturday and went away with a 7-4 victory.
But despite winning nine of its first 11 games, the team has had its share of lapses, whether it’s not finishing a play, as happened in Spokane where the team squandered numerous scoring opportunities, or making mental errors that led to giveaways as was evident on a couple Rebel goals.
“Last night I didn’t think we played that well in winning the game, I still think we can be a lot better,” said head coach Terry Jones following the win over Castlegar.
And the team does not have much time to rest on its laurels or its winning record, as the Hawks prepare to face a tough Nelson Leaf team on Wednesday that is in first place in the Neil Murdoch division.
“We’re happy with our record and attitude we’ve got in the dressing room, and we’re happy with the return of many of the veterans . . . but I think we still have a ways to go,” added Jones. “Looking at our main opposition in Castlegar and Nelson we are going to have to keep improving to be better.”
Returning veteran Dallas Calvin is catching fire as he pitched in a goal against Spokane then followed that up with a four-point night, netting a goal and three assists against Castlegar and was named second star in both games.
Newcomer Christian Johnson is also asserting himself as he dropped the gloves, added a goal and was named first star in the Spokane game, then came back with two assists the next night.
Castlegar outshot the Nitehawks 37 to 29 but solid goaltending by first star Zach Perehudoff thwarted the Rebel attack.
“Our goaltending has been really good, with getting Mike Vlanich back. He and Zach Perehudoff have been outstanding,” said Jones.
Vlanich got the win in Spokane on Friday while Ryan Dixon added three assists against the Rebels and Ryan Edwards scored a pair of goals to keep pace with Nelson’s Patrick Martens for the lead in the KIJHL scoring race, each with 26 points.
With a solid core of veterans and skilled rookies like Craig Martin and Scott Davidson, the Nitehawks lineup is almost set, says Jones, but there are often surprises that come down the pipe and the coach is always looking for ways to improve.