The Beaver Valley Nitehawks lost their second game in a row last week and surrendered their claim to top spot in the KIJHL Neil Murdoch division, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Fernie Ghostriders on Friday.
The Nitehawks line up has been rocked by injury and illness of late with regulars Ryan Edwards, Russell Mortlock, captain Archie McKinnon, Kyle Hope, Jacob Boyzuk, and goaltender Grayson Sharpe still ailing.
The Hawks travelled to Fernie with just 13 regulars and APs Mitch Titus and Jake Yuris in tow, and despite outshooting the Ghostriders, 31-27, too many penalties eventually took its toll.
Fernie’s Dylan Robertson scored the winning goal on a power play at 3:47 of the second period to break a 1-1 deadlock and lift the Ghostriders to the win. Following a Nitehawks penalty, Robertson converted a pass from Josh Terves to put the Ghostriders up 2-1 and Aaron Neufeld would net another PP goal to ice it in the third.
Penalties have been the Achilles’ heal of the Nitehawks in the two losing contests. Fernie enjoyed 10 power-play opportunities to the Nitehawks three, and cashed in on two, while Creston had eight PP chances, scoring twice in a 7-3 Nitehawk loss to the Thunder Cats Tuesday.
Dallas Calvin has scored three of the Nitehawks four goals in the team’s latest two losses, and now leads the team in scoring with 36 goals and 36 assists.
The win puts the Ghostriders within one point of second place Kimberley Dynamiters in the Eddie Murdoch division standings.
With just seven games remaining in the regular season, Beaver Valley has a crucial home-and-home series next weekend against Nelson, in what could be a deciding factor in the race for the division title.
A six-point weekend from Trail native and league-leading scorer Jamie Vlanich helped lift the Leafs to a four point lead over the Nitehawks in the Neil Murdoch division.
Vlanich had a goal and an assist in a 6-2 win over the Spokane Braves on Friday and followed that up with a two-point night in a 5-1 win over Fernie Saturday, to give the Leafs 73 points to the Hawks 69. However, B.V. has an all-important two games in hand.
Vlanich and forward Travis Wellman, who is third in league scoring, deliver a solid one-two punch for Nelson. The Hawks will need to neutralize the talented forwards if they hope to reclaim the division title they won in 2012. The Hawks host the Leafs at the B.V. Arena at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.