A three-goal, third-period outburst sealed the sweep of Neil Murdoch Division semifinal for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Tuesday in Castlegar.
The Nitehawks beat the Castlegar Rebels 4-1 to win the best-of-seven series against the Castlegar Rebels in four straight.
“On paper it’s a four-game series, but I thought the Rebels played hard,” said Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones. “We were a bounce away from being down at the start of the series, and really being even after four games. We’re pretty thrilled with that result and happy to move on.”
After scoring the game-winning overtime goal in Game 3, Lucas Anselmo struck again for the Nitehawks stealing the puck in the Rebels zone and sniping it top shelf at 8:19 of the first period to give B.V. a 1-0 lead in front of a somber Castlegar crowd.
The Rebels evened the match off a Griffen Ryden goal midway through the second period on a scramble in front of Hawks goalie Hunter Young, but Castlegar seemed uncommitted as the Nitehawks carried the play through two, outshooting the Rebels 20-14.
Philipe Lessard put the Hawks up 2-1 less than two minutes into the final frame for what proved to be the game winner, and Bradley Ross continued his goal-a-game pace with his fourth of the playoffs at 6:55.
“It’s playoff time, and we talk about having unsung heroes rise to the occasion,” said Jones. “You know, John Usselman, Phil Lessard, Lucas Anselmo all came up with big goals in the Castlegar series and when you’re top line is going great but your getting contributions from everyone in the line up, it certainly makes a difference and it’s what you need.”
A desperate Rebels team tried to rally, firing 20 shots at the B.V. net in the third period, but Young, the KIJHL Top Goaltender, shut the door on every chance.
Castlegar outshot the Hawks 34-26, with Young earning the Away Star, and Keaghan Holub the Home Star.
The four-game sweep may be a deceptive indicator on how close the series was, as the Nitehawks came back from a couple of two-goal deficits in Games 1 and 3 to win in overtime by identical 3-2 scores.
The top seeded Nitehawks now face number-2 Nelson Leafs who completed the sweep of the Spokane Braves with a 3-0 victory on Tuesday. The Hawks will have home-ice advantage thanks to a win in their final meeting of the season, but that is no guarantee of victory.
“We’ll have our hands full, and nothing is going to be easy, you just take it one game at a time,” added Jones. “The feather in the cap is nice, but you still have to go out and play it. Nelson beat us 5-out-of-6 games, and three times at home, so I don’t know where there is an advantage. The teams are comfortable playing in each other rinks, it’s who is going to go out and play the best.”
Games 1 and 2 of the Murdoch Division final series will go on Monday and Tuesday at the B.V. Arena with the puck drop at 7 p.m.