Two goals from Trail product Joel Smyth lifted the Beaver Valley Nitehawks to a 3-1 win over the Castlegar Rebels in its final exhibition season match up.
The Nitehawks struggled offensively, going 1-3 and scoring just one goal in its previous three pre-season match ups. The Hawks lost to Nelson Leafs by scores of 2-0 and 3-0 on Sept. 9-10, then fell 3-1 in its first game versus the Rebels on Sept. 16.
On a positive note, the Nitehawks played well defensively against Nelson, the reigning Kootenay Conference champions. The Hawks back end stymied most of the Leafs’ chances in the opening game despite being outshot 44-30. B.V. kept the game scoreless in the second match through two periods until Nelson struck for three in the third including an empty net goal.
On Sept. 17 in Castlegar, the Rebels outshot the Nitehawks 14-11 in the opening frame, but a strong start for B.V. goalie Nathan Presley kept the game scoreless through 20.
Smyth made it 1-0 just 74 seconds into the middle frame with assists to Nathan Dominici and Brody Martini. Nitehawks forward Kaleb Brown then converted a Cooper Ross setup for the game winner and 2-0 lead at the 11:17 mark.
The Rebels battled back with Evan MacDonald scoring with 4:45 left in the second period to cut the lead to one.
However, Smyth notched his second of the game on a Martini assist at 15:34 of the third period for the insurance marker and the 3-1 final.
Presley stopped 31 shots for the Hawks, while Matteo Hueston made 30 saves for the Rebels.
While the Nitehawks struggled up front and on the power play through the pre-season, veteran forwards like Dominici, Joel and Ethan Smyth, Austin McKenzie, Austin McLean, Gavin Tritt and Cooper Ross should find their range with the season start this weekend.
Defensively, B.V. allowed a respectable nine goals in four games, with a strong performance from Presley in the final match and versus Nelson where he stopped 21 or 22 shots in 30 minutes of ice time in the 2-0 loss to the Leafs.
Beaver Valley now enters the real season on Saturday, hosting the Osoyoos Coyotes to kick off the 2022-23 KIJHL regular season with the puck drop at 7 p.m. at the B.V. Arena in Fruitvale.
The Nitehawks then host the Grand Forks Border Bruins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and play in Castlegar versus the Rebels on Thursday.
Check out the games on HockeyTV.com.