Although it was a few hundred kilometres away, Beaver Valley Nitehawks supporters celebrated coach Terry Jones’ 1,000th win behind the Nitehawks bench.
After two previous failed attempts at home against Grand Forks and on the road in Kimberley, the Nitehawks defeated the Revelstoke Grizzlies in Revelstoke on Friday night, 5-3, to clinch the milestone.
“Before the game (B.V. trainer) Tom Meakes and I talked and it just felt like it was going to be the night,” said Jones.
Meakes has been on the journey with Jones every step of the way, joining the Nitehawks as a trainer in 1996, the same year Jones started coaching. Meakes announced at the beginning of the season that he would retire from his position as Nitehawks trainer around Christmas time.
“Tom is a real special person,” said Jones. “And so to actually have Tom as part of this – he has been there for 23 years, he’s been a guiding force. He’s such a steady man and a reliable, hard-working person, who’s been a big part of our culture. It’s exactly those kinds of things that he brings on a regular basis, so we’re going to miss him a lot, but it was really cool to have him there together on the Friday night – that was awesome.”
Following Friday’s game, Jones received hundreds of texts, Tweets, Facebook shoutouts, and phone calls from supporters across the globe in recognition of a benchmark unmatched in Jr. B hockey.
“It was very nice to get text messages from players, phone calls, and tweets,” said Jones. “I even got a phone call from Doug Wilson (General Manager) of the San Jose Sharks, right out of the blue, so that was pretty cool.”
While the milestone went unrecognized by the Revelstoke franchise, for Nitehawks’ players getting the win was critical, and although the pressure was mounting, they looked forward to being a part of history in the making.
“We really wanted it,” said Nitehawks forward Morgan Peace. “It was so great to be a part of, and a bit of a relief for all of us.”
In Friday’s match, the Nitehawks fell behind 3-2 with 15 minutes left in the third period, but Ryan Crisalli scored on a power play to tie it at 8:47 and Bradley Ross netted the winner less than 30 seconds later.
“To be honest, I think it became a real monkey on the back for a bit,” said Jones. “The players, I think they really wanted it badly and sometimes when you try to force things, you start to do things that aren’t normal. After the game I could tell by the relief of the players and they were really happy. What was really, really cool was how emotional the kids were, they were happy to be part of the whole thing.”
Raymond Speerbrecker gave Revelstoke a 1-0 lead 46 seconds into the game, but Jared Stocks tied it on a setup from Cole Gibson and Marty Ingram at 13:31 of the first period.
The teams traded goals in the second, with Angus Amadio putting B.V. up 2-1 at 18:01, however, Ryan Pereverzoff tied it on a power play at 11:43. Four straight penalties by B.V. in the middle frame gave Revelstoke ample chances, but only one shot beat Hawks goalie Noah Decottignies who stopped 25 shots in the period.
Jaden Hay put the Grizzlies up 3-2 at 15:48 of the third, but Crisalli’s and Ross’ goals 23 seconds apart put B.V. up for good, as Michael Hagen iced it on an unassisted effort with 1:17 to play.
Jones, a 52-year-old educator, started his next 1,000 with a 3-2 victory over the Chase Heat on Saturday. The two victories also lifted the 12-10-2-2 Hawks into second place in the standings, two points up on Spokane and nine points back of the Murdoch Division leading Nelson Leafs.
The Hawks held a 3-0 lead on goals from Luke Recchi, Paul Leroux, and Ross, and almost let the Heat back in it as Evan Vinterlik and Tyson Lampreau scored back-to-back goals to cut the lead to 3-2 early in the third, but couldn’t find the equalizer.
“You try to get some consistency to your game, and I just felt our game from Friday to Saturday was a big drop off,” said Jones. “It’s that inconsistency of a young team. It’s too hard to do other guys’ job rather than just focus on your job and work together as a team. We’ll work on that again in practice this week and keep going.”
For Jones, the 1,000th win is indeed an achievement, but perhaps it’s even more symbolic of a hockey life well-lived.
There was no incentive clause for the coach, no prizes or payouts. The game against the Grizzlies was another win in a unique Jr. B coaching career that spans two decades, close to 1,500 games, eight KIJHL championships, four Cyclones and a Keystone, not to mention the countless bus rides, practices, players and coaches that joined Jones for the ride and shared in the highest of highs and some tragic lows.
Jones represents everything that is good in hockey. For him it’s about family, the Nitehawks family, and a focus on hard work, commitment, understanding, support, selflessness and grace, and 23 years of making a difference in young men’s lives.
Terry’s Tweet in response to the avalanche of congratulations via social media, says it all:
“Overwhelmed and incredibly humbled by the text and twitter response from former players, friends and fans. Deep gratitude to all of the talented and committed people that have been part of the Nitehawk family, especially Trainer Tom Meakes #charactermatters – It’s always about we.”
One-thousand wins, a mark that won’t be beat – and a legacy that is still unfolding.
The Nitehawks travel to Grand Forks for a division tilt against the Border Bruins on Friday, and return to the Hawks Nest on Saturday for a game against the Creston Valley Wildcats at 7:30 p.m.