Nitehawks wrap up season with tough split against Castlegar’s team

It may not have meant much in the standings but the Beaver Valley Nitehawks head into the post-season with the satisfaction they gave the division champs everything they could in the club’s final games of the 2010-11 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League regular season.

The Castlegar Rebels and the Beaver Valley Nitehawks collided for the final time in the regular season on the weekend when the Nitehawks  won Friday night but lost Saturday. The teams won’t meet again unless they advance past the first round of the playoffs

The Castlegar Rebels and the Beaver Valley Nitehawks collided for the final time in the regular season on the weekend when the Nitehawks won Friday night but lost Saturday. The teams won’t meet again unless they advance past the first round of the playoffs

Beaver Valley coach won’t let loss dampen his players’ spirits as they prepare for playoffs

It may not have meant much in the standings but the Beaver Valley Nitehawks head into the post-season with the satisfaction they gave the division champs everything they could in the club’s final games of the 2010-11 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League regular season.

Friday in Castlegar, Daniel Bishop’s power play goal with two minutes to play proved to be the difference in a 5-3 win over the Castlegar Rebels.

Once again, five different players dotted the sheet for the Hawks – Taylor Love, Justin Niminiken, Austin Sture and Keenan Patershuk scored. 

Saturday in Fruitvale, the teams took their season-long battle down to the last shot when the Rebels’ Stuart Walton completed an improbable comeback, scoring a minute into the first overtime for a 4-3 win.

“We’re always looking to find the silver lining in things. It was definitely a loss that was hard to take and we were upset by it,” said Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones. “We felt the momentum get away from us. We got to give Castlegar credit for that, when they get the momentum, they really go with it.”

The teams skated through two scoreless periods before lighting things up in the third.

Ryan Baines scored twice and Ryon Sookro added one, as the Hawks took a 3-0 lead with five minutes and 36 seconds to play in regulation time.

Incredibly, the Rebels rallied back with three goals before time ran out, including two in the final 73 seconds of play.

That set the stage for the team’s fourth goal in a four-minute span to complete the huge comeback.

Nevertheless, all those dramatics go out the window Tuesday when the KIJHL playoffs begin.

The Nitehawks will host the Nelson Leafs on Tuesday and Wednesday, before the best-of-seven series shifts to Nelson on Friday and Saturday with Game 5, if necessary, next Monday in Fruitvale.

Jones said the Nitehawks will take their loss against Castlegar as a learning experience as they shift their focus to Nelson.

“You can’t overlook your opponent. We respect Nelson and they’ve played us hard,” he said.

Though the Beaver Valley has had success over the younger team, he said games have been close.

“It’s sports, anything can happen.”

Once the dust settled from the final weekend of the regular season, the playoff matchups were finalized.

Castlegar will meet Spokane in the other Neil Murdoch Division semifinal.

In the Eddie Mountain Division, the Fernie Ghostriders – who will host the Cyclone Taylor Cup – will take on the Kimberley Dynamiters while Creston meets Golden.

The Osoyoos Coyotes, the league’s top team which has only lost twice in regulation all season, will meet Penticton at the Okanagan Conference.

Other first-round matchups will feature  Sicamous versus Kamloops, Kelowna against Princeton and North Okanagan going up against the defending league champion Revelstoke Grizzlies.

While Osoyoos posted the highest point total by a team, the individual scoring race saw a pair of local products, who skate with the Ghostriders, finish one-two in KIJHL scoring.

Former Nitehawk Scott Morisseau, a Castlegar native, claimed his second straight scoring title with 42 goals and 97 points in 50 games. Trail native Thomas Abenante was second with 92 points in 47 games. Kyle Laslo, a netminder for Osoyoos, led all goaltenders with a 1.91 goals against average followed by Montrose native Alex Ross who sported a 2.04 average with the Rebels.