Well, it was great while it lasted, but the Beaver Valley Nitehawk’s exceptional run has ended.
Beaver Valley journeyed to the coast for the Cyclone Taylor Cup filled with high expectations. Coming on the heels of a prolific winning season and playoffs, loaded with a potent offence, solid defence and a formidable goaltending tandem, the Cyclone seemed a formality in pronouncing the Hawks provincial champs. But of course, “That is why you play the game.”
Inexplicably, the league scoring juggernaut was held to just one goal in their opening two games. They were shutout for the first time all season, a 3-0 loss to Victoria, and managed just a 1-1 tie against the PIJHL champion Delta Ice Hawks in the first match. They lost their final round-robin game to eventual winner Abbotsford in a close 4-3 battle.
“Anyone could have won,” said one Hawk insider. “It was just a pleasure to watch such evenly-matched teams play really good hockey.”
That’s all you can ask for. The Hawks competed hard and despite bowing out of the Cyclone, should be proud of their success.
Highlighted by the Game 7 win over Castlegar, the division-final series may have taken more out of the Nitehawks than they admit. Investing so much energy and intensity against a fierce rival is draining both physically and mentally. For the Hawks, that was the season right there, the only series that meant something more than a mere banner.
Everything following that accomplishment, the conference and league titles, seemed anti-climactic in comparison.
So a hearty congratulation goes out to the team. Thanks for a sensational season.
As for the Vancouver Canucks, I’m starting to think that my preseason prediction of a Canuck-Pittsburgh Penguin final is worth some serious reconsideration with both teams down 3-0 going into Wednesday’s games.
I had a good strategy planned out for the ‘Nucks. Start Luongo at home and Schneider on the road, a good idea when considering last year’s playoff record. While Lou was very good in the first two, the Canucks made more turnovers than the City Bakery, including an incomprehensible minus-4 on the power play.
Henrik Sedin was lost without his brother Daniel. He literally skated circles around the L.A. Kings, but had no linemate remotely connected to his radar. The Kings kept Sedin and most of the shots to the perimeter all night.
The Sedins have played together since they were five, together they are a dynamic duo, a playmaking force. Singularly, it’s another story- it’s like macaroni disenfranchised of its cheese – it just doesn’t work.
So whom will a Canuck fan’s spurious logic blame if the President’s trophy winner becomes the first such team to be swept in the opening round?
Daniel Sedin of course. Out with concussion-like symptoms, the 2011 MVP candidate hasn’t played a playoff game yet, but is the obvious scapegoat for Vancouver’s woeful offense. His absence may potentially cost the Canucks the series.
Which makes me wonder – after watching AM Ford’s Fight Night Saturday, I saw more than a dozen guys and two girls get hit harder than the talented Swede. I’m not saying his injury isn’t legitimate, but the headshot is emerging as a reactionary epidemic where every single hit is grounds for suspension and a holiday from the rink for both hitter and hittee.
Perhaps Canuck players should train with Pride Gym fighters, learn how to take a hit and give one occasionally, but most of all, they need a lesson in how to get up off the mat after being knocked down.
Hopefully they can do that in Game 4.
My revised bold prediction: I’m going with Fruitvale native and new sentimental favourite, Barrett Jackman’s St. Louis Blues. The Blues had a great season and Jackman, with nearly 600 career NHL games under his belt, would like nothing more than to top off an outstanding career with a Cup. The Blues in six over Philadelphia.