It was larceny, plain and simple.
Thanks to a 31-save performance by Grand Forks Border Bruins goalie Ross King, the Bruins stole two points from the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Saturday at the B.V. Arena, a day after a 4-1 loss to the Murdoch Division leading Nelson Leafs in Nelson.
After winning seven of eight games, Beaver Valley looked poised to continue to move up the standings, but with the loss to the Leafs Friday and a disappointing 3-1 setback to the Bruins Saturday, the 18-13-2-2 Hawks now trail the Leafs by nine points.
In the Hawks game against Grand Forks on Saturday, Paul Leroux put B.V. up 1-0 at 16:29 of the first period. Ryan Crisalli sent Leroux in on a breakaway, and the Hawks leading scorer sniped it top corner for his 19th tally of the season.
The Hawks dominated the opening frame, but the Bruins goalie kept the visiting team in the game, allowing just one goal despite being outshot 15-5.
However, the Border Bruins picked up the pace in the second, and Zane Avery tied the match at one, breaking in all alone and roofing the puck to beat Hawks goalie Noah Decottignies at 3:21. The Hawks outshot the Border Bruins 11-9 in the period but could not beat King.
The Nitehawks had a glorious chance to take the lead when Avery received a double-minor for roughing with 5:19 remaining in regulation. But an aggressive forecheck by Bruins forward Keaghan Holub forced the Hawks d-man off the puck and Holub fed Rilee Poffenroth in front. The Bruins forward made no mistake beating Decottignies with just 3:31 to play for a shorthanded goal and a 2-1 Bruins lead.
Grand Forks added one more into an empty net for the 3-1 final, as B.V. outshot the Border Bruins 32-18. The Nitehawks power play struggled, going 0-for-6 while their PK was 4-for-4.
On Friday, the Nitehawks jumped out to a 1-0 lead on an unassisted goal from Kevin Duguid. But the Leafs battled back tying the game with just under two minutes to play in the second on a breakaway goal by Reid Wilson.
Kevin Nypower then netted the game winner on another free pass to the net at 13:23 of the third period. The Leafs added two more, scoring three third-period goals for the 4-1 victory.
The 24-9-1-1 Leafs outshot the Nitehawks 33-25 and were 1-for-7 on the power play, while B.V. went 0-for-4.
The Leafs followed that game with a 12-3 drubbing of Castlegar on Saturday, and get set to play the Kimberley Dynamiters on Friday and the Border Bruins on Saturday.
With 14 games remaining in the regular season, every game is crucial for the Nitehawks if they hope to catch the Leafs. The Hawks had closed to within five points of the division leaders before this weekend, and will need some help if they expect to catch the Leafs. B.V. has yet to beat Nelson, and has two more games, Jan. 19 and Feb. 9, against them this season.
Beaver Valley has just one game this weekend and returns to action on Friday with a trip to Grand Forks for a tilt against the Border Bruins.