The Beaver Valley Nitehawks and the Nelson Leafs faced each other for the final time in the regular season Sunday at the Beaver Valley Arena.
But both sides know it probably won’t be the last.
Chris Derochie continued to hold the hot hand for the Hawks potting three goals including the winner with one minute and 18 seconds left in regulation time as Beaver Valley downed the Leafs 6-5.
The victory wrapped up back-to-back wins over the Leafs after Beaver Valley scored a 3-2 win Saturday in Nelson.
Although Sunday’s game ended the season series between the two teams, which the Hawks won 7-1, the two teams appear destined to face each other once the playoffs begin in mid-February.
Castlegar holds an 11-point lead on Beaver Valley for first in the Neil Murdoch Division while Nelson sits third, 12 points up on fourth-place Spokane.
“Every game we’ve had against them has been really competitive,” said Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones. “We’ve been really fortunate to win a lot of games against them.
“Saturday we didn’t play our best game and we won because our goaltender played really well and our power play came up with some big goals.”
Zach Perehudoff stopped 27 shots, including 14 in the first period, while Daniel Bishop broke a 2-2 deadlock with the lone goal of the third period to lift the Hawks to victory.
Sunday evening in Fruitvale, the Hawks held a 5-3 lead in the third period before Nelson fired back with a pair of quick goals to even the score with five minutes to play.
That set the stage for Derochie’s hat-trick goal with 78 seconds left in regulation time.
The Rossland native has been on a scoring tear of late. He had four points in last Thursday’s 8-2 win over Grand Forks and a pair of points in Saturday’s win in Nelson.
Beaver Valley’s win against Nelson was its third over the Leafs in eight days but Jones knows all too well that regular-season records go out the window once the post-season begins.
“We’re going to be facing them in the first round and they’re not going away,” he said.
“The playoffs are a different animal and we’re just going to have to be prepared and go.”
The Nitehawks return to action Tuesday in Castlegar against the Rebels for the first of three meetings in February.
The team is at home next weekend with games against Sicamous on Friday and Grand Forks on Saturday.