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Niminiken sends Hawks into KIJHL Conference Finals as Beaver Valley outlasts Rebels 5-3 in Murdoch Division game seven
There's no way Justin Niminiken wanted his junior hockey career to end in the Murdoch Final.
The 21-year-old Nelson native scored the winning goal with three minutes remaining, snapping a 3-3 tie to send the Beaver Valley Nitehawks into the Kootenay Confernece Finals with a 5-3 game seven victory over the pesky Castlegar Rebels Thursday before a packed house at the Fruitvale Arena.
Niminiken & Company now advance to the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Conference Final against the Fernie Ghostriders, winning the best-of-seven Murdoch title in 4-3 after the Rebels rallied from a 3-1 deficit.
Fernie also needed seven games to oust Kimberley.
Castlegar started the game on fire, out shooting the Hawks in the opening frame 19-6 and getting goals from captain Erik Alden and Tyler Robinson — both unassisted markers — to grab a 2-0 lead.
But in the second period the Hawks woke up.
Sending a barrage of shots on Castlegar netminder Jordan Gluck Beaver Valley scored three times in the frame, starting with a power play goal at 12 minutes by Nick Perez. Forty-nine seconds later Ryan Edwards tied the game before Mason Spear gave the Hawks the lead with a marker late in the frame.
Robinson, with his second of the game, tied the game before the period ended setting the stage for Niminiken to win it for the home side.
Edwards scored into the empty net to ice the game.
Castlegar out shot the Hawks 36-34.
The Hawks now gain some revenge for losing to the Rebels in last year's Murdoch Final.
Upsets in Okanagan
The regular season means nothing to skaters on the Chiefs and Eagles.
The Okanagan Conference Final matches two struggling regular-season finishers as Kelowna faces Sicamous in the best-of-seven series.
The Chiefs got past the Princeton Posse in one Conference Final while the Sicamous Eagles edged out Kamloops in seven games.