They are kids, I get that, but the closeness of the score in Beaver Valley Wednesday night had no business, history-wise, existing.
Beaver Valley had the best season, among many very good seasons in its history, in a long while in 2011-2012. Kelowna squeaked into the playoffs in fourth place in a very weak Okanagan division, accumulating 31 fewer points than the Nitehawks. Beaver Valley outscored Kelowna by 101 goals and surrendered 54 fewer than the Chiefs.
The Hawks are bigger and faster than the Chiefs, their goalies have played better, statistically, than Kelowna’s, against better playoff competition and Beaver Valley was playing at home.
No contest, right.
That is why, as they say, they play the game.
It came down to Beaver Valley scrambling to protect a one-goal lead in the final minute, against six on four pressure, and only a fluky 160-foot empty-netter sealed the deal.
That was surprise number one.
Surprise number two was the fact the Hawks’ Nest was not full. It was pretty full relative to regular season attendance, but there were empty seats and empty spots on the rail, good sight lines for all. The 50-50 total was about a fifth of the one for game seven of series two.
I did not see any games in the Fernie series, but am told they were not packed, either. What’s up with that?
Part of the reason the Nest was so jammed last time I was there was, of course, a large contingent of Castlegar supporters were in house. Several Beaver Valley fans (generally of the altitude-challenged variety) complained afterward that because the crowd was so large they had difficulty seeing the ice surface. A few of those even suggested it would have been better had the game been played at Cominco Arena.
Well, folks, if you cannot fill the limited confines of Beaver Valley Arena for a championship series involving a Nitehawks team that shows the potential to win the KIJHL and B.C. (Cyclone Taylor Cup) championships and even make a strong Western Canadian title (Keystone Cup) run, there obviously isn’t enough interest in the valley team to justify even thinking about a larger venue.
The weather was reasonable for driving or walking to the rink. The game was really important and turned out to be really exciting. The only game on the tube featured a Vancouver Canucks team which is even more boring to watch without Daniel Sedin and really hasn’t much to play for.
This will be too late to make a difference for game two, which was potentially the last chance for Nitehawks’, “fans,” to see the team in action this year.
I hope while I was there I saw the Nest packed and rocking. The team, and the organization, deserve no less.
In case there is a game five, it will be played next Tuesday at the Beaver Valley Barn. Mark your calendar, and show up.