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Nitehawks rally past Leafs to clinch Murdoch Division Crown

Nelson Captain David Sanchez gets sandwiched between Luke Woodrow and goalie Hunter Young during Saturday's KIJHL contest at the NDCC Arena. — Bruce Fuhr, The Nelson Daily

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks waited until the final game of the regular season to Get Off the Schneid against Murdoch Division rival Nelson Leafs.

The Hawks scored three third-period goals to double up on the Leafs 4-2 in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action Saturday night at the NDCC Arena.

The win not only allowed the Nitehawks to defeat the Leafs for the first time in six games this season, but also clinched the Murdoch Division title and a date in the first round of the playoffs against the Castlegar Rebels.

Two-time defending Murdoch Champion Leafs, meanwhile, must play a much-tougher opponent in the Spokane Braves — a series that begins Friday at the NDCC Arena. Game two is Saturday before the series shifts south of the 49th parallel, for Games three and four, Tuesday and Wednesday, March 3-4.

Beaver Valley returned the favour to the Green and White Saturday night, erasing a 2-1 second-period deficit by scoring three times in the final eight minutes of the game — two of the goals coming on the power play.

Thursday, in Beaver Valley, Nelson rallied to defeat the Hawks 4-3 in overtime, scoring in the final minutes of the third period to force the extra frame.

Hawks leading scorer Bradley Ross started the comeback, pulling the visitors event as time was running out on a power play with Shawn Grobowsky in the penalty box for interference.

Then, with Bryden Pow serving a penalty for slashing, Simon Nemethy netted the winner with Ross and Nathan Ingram providing assists. Nolan Corrado added an empty net marker with Nelson’s Anderson Violette on the bench for the extra attacker.

Alex Erichuk and Reid Wilson, on the power play, scored for Nelson after Brock Wallace had given Beaver Valley a 1-0 lead after one period.

Nelson outshot the Hawks 37-25 in the game, including a 19-8 advantage in the second period when Nelson scored twice to take a one goal lead. Former Leaf goalie Hunter Young was the winner in the nets for the Hawks while Anderson Violette took the loss in goal for Nelson.

  • Nelson and Spokane split their six-game series during the regular season. Last season, the Leafs needed seven games to edge the Braves during the first-round of the Murdoch Division Playoffs.
  • Kimberley Dynamiters edged out Revelstoke for the KIJHL Regular Season Championship by one point on the final day of the season. The Nitros won both games over the weekend against Creston and Grand Forks while Revelstoke, playing onces to conclude the regular season, defeated 100 Mile House Friday at home.
  • Game one of round one divisional semi-finals begins Friday. In the Eddie Mountain Division Kimberley hosts Creston Valley while the Ghostriders meet Columbia Valley Rockies in Fernie. In the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference, Kelowna Chiefs host North Okanagan Knights while Summerland travels to meet the Posse in Princeton. Defending KIJHL Champion, Revelstoke Grizzlies host Kamloops Storm while 100 Mile Wranglers travel to meet the Heat in Chase.
  • The BC Junior B Championships, Cyclone Taylor Cup, begins April 16th in 100 Mile House. The winners of the KIJHL, Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League and Pacific Coast Hockey League join 100 Mile House in the four-team tournament. The Cyclone Taylor Champ will be crowned Sunday, April 19th.