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Nelson Leafs take Neil Murdoch division title in dramatic fashion
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks did everything right, but get the win against the Nelson Leafs Saturday night at the Hawks Nest.
It all came down to the final game of the season and a packed Beaver Valley Arena was pulsating with anticipation. With B.V. beating Spokane Braves 3-1 on Friday, the Hawks and Leafs sat tied for first place in the Neil Murdoch division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), and the 52nd game of the season would decide the division champion.
In the end, the low-scoring, tight-checking game would be decided in overtime, with the Leafs surviving a 46 shot barrage for the 2-1 victory.
Austin Seaman netted both goals, including the overtime winner 33 seconds into the extra frame. With the score tied 1-1 and 32 seconds to play in regulation, Mitch Foyle was called for delay of game after unintentionally sending the puck over the boards in his own end. The penalty would give the Leafs a man advantage entering overtime and Seaman capitalized on a 2-on-1 when he took a nice cross-ice pass from Robson Cramer, and fired it into the open side, beating Hawks goalie Brett Clark.
The Leafs Seaman opened the scoring on a funny power-play goal that somehow snuck in on Clark at 2:55 of the first period. Beaver Valley outshot the Leafs through two periods, 35-21, and it wasn’t for lack of scoring opportunities that foiled the Hawks, but a combination of bad luck, hit posts, and great goaltending from the Leafs Adam Maida.
Dan Holland would get the Hawks on the board on a power-play goal with 5:03 to go in the second period. The Hawks pressed hard on the power play and after a flurry in front of Maida, the puck came out to the high slot and Holland corralled it and fired a bullet that somehow found its way through traffic and into the back of the net.
Clark also played well, stopping 32 Nelson shots. B.V. will now face Castlegar who secured third spot in the division after beating Grand Forks on Friday 5-3. The Rebels outshot the Border Bruins 70-48, in what must be one of the highest combined shot totals on record. The win lifted them a point ahead of Spokane, who will now face Nelson, in the Neil Murdoch division.
Beaver Valley opens the playoffs on Wednesday at the Hawks Nest against the Rebels at 7:30 p.m.