After a four-games-in-five-days stretch, a banged up Beaver Valley Nitehawks team went into Castlegar and took two points from the Rebels in a 5-2 victory on Tuesday.
B.V. had a strong bounce-back effort after losing two of three games on the weekend, eliminating the Rebels from playoff contention in the process. Despite missing top forwards Paul Leroux, Angus Amadio, and Luke Recchi up front, and veteran d-man Jake Yuris and Jesse Ihas on the back end, the Hawks iced three affiliate players and played solid two-way hockey on the way to their 23rd win of the season.
“I thought the guys really played hard,” said Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones. “I thought we got some great goaltending from Noah Decottignies, timely scoring, a real hardworking game. The fact that we’re banged up and considering it was the fourth game in five nights, I thought it was a great win against a team looking for a playoff spot.”
Campbell River product Nolan Corrado netted the game winner, scoring a goal and two assists, in the 5-2 victory. Corrado’s goal on a setup from Jared Stocks and Kyle Guenter with 7:35 to play in the second period gave the Hawks a 3-1 lead. The six-foot-three, 17-year-old rookie has five points in his last three matches.
“We expected that there was going to be a time when he (Corrado) explodes and gets on the score sheet, and in the last month his play has really improved and picked up, and he’s just starting to get rewarded for his hard work,” said Jones.
The Nitehawks locked up second place in the Neil Murdoch Division standings and effectively put an end to the Rebels hopes for a playoff berth. Castlegar (13-28-1-4) is six points back of the fourth-place Grand Forks Border Bruins (17-25-1-2), with three games left. But even if the Rebels were to win out and Grand Forks lose its remaining four games, the Bruins will have more wins, 17, than the Rebels, 16, and earn the berth, regardless.
In Tuesday’s match, the Rebels jumped out to an early lead with Colby Winia beating Decottignies just over four minutes into the opening frame. However, Nitehawks power-forward Bradley Ross tied the game converting a pass from Corrado just 63 seconds later.
Michael Hagen put B.V. up for good, scoring his 12th goal and 49th point of the season on an unassisted marker with 7:58 to play in the first.
Corrado made it 3-1 in the second, and Hawks goalie Decottignies was stellar in net as the Braves outshot the Hawks 17-10 in the period.
Winia notched his 17th of the campaign, scoring at 13:54 to draw the Rebels to within one, but an insurance marker by Sherwood Park native Kevin Duguid with 2:17 remaining put the Hawks up 4-2. Ross rounded out the scoring, sending a shot into the empty net with 1:36 on the clock for the 5-2 final.
The Rebels outshot B.V. 37-30 and went 0-for-5 on the power play, while the Hawks were 0-for-3.
B.V. will face either the Spokane Braves or the Grand Forks Border Bruins in the first round of playoffs. With three games remaining, the Braves lead the Bruins by five points and can clinch the third seed with a win and a Bruins loss. The fourth-seed will face first-place Nelson Leafs (32-10-2-1) in the first round.
With second-place assured, the 23-17-3-2 Nitehawks hope to avoid more injury, and have the team back to full health come playoff time.
“It’s funny how injuries just creep up on you and test your depth,” said Jones. “It pushes guys to step up, and do more than is expected. It’s a good thing for us this time of year, and we have a couple weeks to get healthy.”
Beaver Valley rostered three affiliate players from the BCMML Kootenay Ice for the match including Jaxson Waterstreet, Dayton Nelson, and Jarred Macasso.
“We’re banged up pretty good right now, and the APs came in and did a really good job for us.”
Beaver Valley has four games remaining in the regular season, with their final home-game on Saturday at the Hawks Nest against the Columbia Valley Rockies at 7:30 p.m.
The Hawks finish their season on the road with games in Castlegar Feb. 22, Creston on the 23rd, and Spokane on Feb. 24.