The Beaver Valley Nitehawks bounced back in a big way on the weekend, sweeping the Nelson Leafs in a two-game series at the Hawks Nest.
Rossland native Kevin Engman shut out the Leafs on Saturday night, making 23 saves in a 4-0 win. The shutout followed another strong performance by a Nitehawks goalie on Friday night, when counterpart Owen Albers made an incredible 53 saves in a 3-1 victory over Nelson.
The wins come a week after the Neil Murdoch Division leading Nitehawks (10-6-1-0) lost both weekend games to (7-8-1-0) Castlegar Rebels 3-1 and (8-6-1-0) Golden Rockets 6-3, while the Leafs enjoyed an explosive 8-0 victory over the Grand Forks Border Bruins.
Hawks defenceman Brennan Wilson scored the game winner 7:56 into the second period on a two-man advantage. The Nitehawks came close earlier in the period on the power play, but it was B.V.’s captain who got them on the board with a slap shot from the point that beat Nelson goalie Tenzin Mint between the pads.
Nelson held the man advantage late in the peiod, but Hawks forward Ethan Smyth interecepted a pass and broke in all alone, beating the Leafs goalie with a quick move to the five-hole for a 2-0 lead with two minutes to play in the period.
B.V. added more insurance, when Austin McKenzie beat a defenceman one-on-one, then chipped in his own rebound with 57 seconds left on the clock.
The physical play didn’t let up, as a frustrated Leafs team found themselves shorthanded for much of the third.
B.V. forward Judah Makway capitalized, netting his seventh of the season on a power play goal with 3:34 remaining for the 4-0 final.
The bitter rivalry culiminated in a tilt between Nitehawks forward Austin McLean and the Leafs Ryland Mennie with under three minutes to play.
Which certainly hurt the Leafs more, as the victories lift the Nitehawks into sole possession of first place in the Neil Murdoch Division, two points up on the 9-6-0-1 Nelson team.
B.V. outshot Nelson 37-23, with the Hawks going 2-for-13 on the power play, and Nelson 0-for-7.
On Friday, goals from Ethan Smyth, Hunter Burgeson, and Nathan Dominici gave the Nitehawks a 3-0 lead in the second period, and let goalie Owen Albers do the rest, stopping 33 shots through two periods.
The Leafs finally solved Albers a minute into the third period, but that was as close as they would get as the Calgary native stopped 20 shots in the final frame, and 53 on the night for the 3-1 victory.
Mint faced 31 shots in the Leafs net, as B.V. went 1-for-8 on the power play and Nelson 1-for-6.
Beaver Valley faces the Castlegar Rebels in Castlegar on Friday, before returning to the Hawks Nest on Saturday to play the Kimberley Dynamiters. The puck drop goes at 7 p.m.