The Beaver Valley Nitehawks head into the final two games of the season with the league title securely wrapped up but are determined to maintain their stride heading into playoffs.
Other than Scotty Davidson who has missed most of the season with a knee injury, the Nitehawks are healthy going into the weekend games against the Nelson Leafs.
But the Leafs have been buoyed by the play of scoring wizard Patrick Martens, winning seven of their past 11 games since his return Jan. 14 from a two-month stint in the BCHL. Since rejoining the Leafs, the 19-year-old has netted 16 goals and two assists.
However, the Nitehawks will not approach these final games any different than the last 50.
“We’re a pretty healthy group other than the normal every day bumps and bruises,” said Nitehawk assistant coach Jeremy Cominotto. “I don’t think we’re going to take these games any lighter than any other games – we’re going to come hard . . . We’re going to be putting the best group on the ice against Nelson and we’re looking forward to seeing them again.”
The line of Chris Derochie, Ryan Edwards and Craig Martin has led the league in scoring for most of the season, but with two games remaining, only Derochie has a realistic chance of catching league scoring leader Kimberley’s Richard Hubscher who is five points up on the Rossland native.
Derochie has been a model of consistency this season, registering at least a point in 44 of 50 games, including 26 multi-point games and 16 matches where he counted three points or more. With a couple big games this weekend the Nitehawks’ captain could overtake the Dynamiter.
Heading into the final weekend of play, the Nitehawks are the only team that has clinched its division.
The Eddie Mountain division may come down to the final game with Kimberley holding a tenuous one point lead over the Fernie Ghostriders, who have a game in hand.
The Ghostriders have the edge, playing a two game set against lowly Columbia Valley this weekend before meeting Kimberley in a final head-to-head matchup on Sunday.
Kimberley has a much more difficult task with a home-and-home series against a tough Creston Valley Thunder Cats team tonight and Saturday, before heading to Fernie Sunday
In the Doug Birks division of the Okanagan/ Shuswap Conference, the Revelstoke Grizzlies and Kamloops Storm are tied for first but the Grizzlies have a game in hand. Kamloops however should have an easier time of it, closing out the season with games against division cellar-dwellers, the Chase Heat and Summerland Steam.
Revelstoke plays a respectable North Okanagan Knights team tonight before finishing off the season with two games against fourth- place Sicamous Eagles.
In the Okanagan division Osoyoos Coyotes hold a four-point lead over the Princeton Posse with two games remaining. The Coyotes should clinch it with a win over lowly Summerland tonight.
The Nitehawks final home game of the regular season goes Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Beaver Valley Arena.