Rebels-Hawks renew rivalry

Beaver Valley Nitehawks host the Castlegar Rebels tonight and the Spokane Braves on Saturday.

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks look to rebound from two losses to Nelson and Kimberley on the weekend as they get set to host the Castlegar Rebels Friday and the Spokane Braves in KIJHL action on Saturday at the B.V. Arena.

While the losses came at the hands of the two top teams in the Neil Murdoch and Eddie Mountain divisions Nitehawk head coach Terry Jones was not pleased with the team’s work ethic in the final four periods.

“We have to work a lot harder,” said Hawks coach Terry Jones following the loss to Kimberley. “I think in the details, in practice, we have to be better . . . and get back to the basics.”

The Hawks-Rebels matchup should be another good tilt between the perennial rivals, with the Nitehawks holding a 2-0 series lead after sweeping the Rebels in a home-and-home series 5-3 and 4-3 last month.

The Rebels bolstered their lineup with the return of Diego Bartlett who counted five points in his first two games against B.V.. In nine matches, the Castlegar native has seven multi-point games, and is tied for the team lead in scoring with 17 points.

The Hawks will also have to watch out for forward Darren Medeiros who is tied with Bartlett for the lead, as is 18-year-old defenceman Seth Schmidt who has been a beast on the back end with 2 goals and 15 assists and 23 minutes in penalties in 13 contests.

The Hawks, 8-4-0-0, currently sit behind the Rebels, 7-5-0-3, in third place in the Neil Murdoch division but have three games in hand.

Ryan Edwards leads the team in scoring with 25 points, while veteran line-mates Taylor Stafford and Michael Bell have netted 18 and 14 respectively. However, Dallas Calvin is charging up the leaderboard, having scored seven goals and six assists in the five games since his return.

Despite a line up stocked with veterans, the losses to Nelson and Kimberley last weekend is a concern for the Hawks’ coaching staff.

While they lost to two very good teams, it was the way they lost – allowing six goals in the final 10 minutes of the third-period against the Leafs, and just never showing up for the 6-2 loss against the Dynamiters – that is worrying.

“When you have veteran players like Calvin, Mckinnon, Edwards, and Stang, those guys are veteran guys and everybody thinks it’s going to be easy and it’s never easy,” said Jones. “As soon as you think this game is too easy, it becomes ridiculously hard and that’s what has happened.”

The Nitehawks won both games against Spokane this year by scores of 5-2 and 6-1, but the Braves have struggled out of the gate going 3-9-0-2. They have showed signs of improvement in their last three games, losing twice in overtime to North Okanagan and Princeton, and dropping a close 2-1 game to the Coyotes in Osoyoos last weekend.

The Nitehawks drop the puck against Castlegar tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the B.V. Arena and at the same time and place Saturday against the Braves.