The Beaver Valley Nitehawks stated their case as potential favourites at the Keystone Cup, blasting the host Abbotsford Pilots 10-2 in the opening game of the Western Canadian junior B hockey championship tournament.
Dallas Calvin led the offensive onslaught with a four-goal outing on Thursday morning at Abbotsford Recreation Centre.
The round-robin portion of the event continues through Saturday, followed by the bronze (10 a.m.) and gold (1 p.m.) medal games on Sunday.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Beaver Valley coach Terry Jones, whose team won the Cyclone Taylor Cup, emblematic of B.C. provincial supremacy, last weekend.
“We got in at two in the morning and got up early . . . so we were just hoping to get our legs moving underneath us early. We struggled a little bit (in the first period), but once we got that first goal, it seemed to ignite us.”
The Nitehawks and Pilots spent the bulk of the first period locked in a scoreless tie, but Beaver Valley got goals from Calvin and Taylor Stafford 19 seconds apart late in the frame.
Mitch Foyle made it 3-0 for the visitors early in the second, before Jarrett Martin got Abby on the board by chipping in a rebound off Ryan Parmar’s initial shot.
But Calvin tallied on the power play shortly thereafter, prompting the exit of Abby starting goalie William Latimer in favour of backup Zachary Station.
Beaver Valley’s offensive juggernaut kept rolling, though, with two more goals from Calvin and singles from Sam Swanson, Daniel Holland, Ryan Edwards and Riley Brandt.
Defenceman Eric Wieking tacked on a late goal for Abbotsford.
“The first two periods, the shots were pretty even,” Pilots coach Jim Cowden mused. “In the third period, we just died. We hadn’t played in five and a half weeks.
“That’s a good team . . . and we were kind of a step behind.”
Jones noted that his squad is carrying a lot of momentum coming off their Cyclone Taylor Cup victory.
“We’ve had a great run,” he said. “When you get playing a certain way, everybody knows what they have to do. That’s what we are right now – we’re pretty locked in as a team, and hopefully we can continue it for the rest of the weekend.”
The Keystone Cup also features the Blackfalds Wrangers (Alta.), Saskatoon Quakers (Sask.), Selkirk Fishermen (Man.) and Thunder Bay Northern Hawks (Northern Ont.).
The Pilots’ next game is at 8:30 p.m. Thursday vs. Blackfalds.