CASTLEGAR – The Beaver Valley Nitehawks were behind early in game one of their first KIJHL playoff game against the Castlegar Rebels, but outshot the home team and won 3 – 2 in regulation to take an early series lead.
Castlegar’s Diego Bartlett opened the scoring 1:56 into the first, assisted by Brenden Heinrich and Bryan Lubin.
The Rebels got a second chance to take a two-goal lead when the Nitehawks’ Nick Perez was called for high-sticking, but the penalty was largely offset moments later when Quinn Klimchuk went to the box for tripping; garnering a game misconduct on the same sequence.
Heavy hitting was the order of the night, with both sides dishing out considerable punishment all over the ice.
Beaver Valley’s Michael Bell tied the game with less than seven minutes to play in the first.
The score remained 1 – 1 through one period even though Castlegar went on the power play late, after minors from Nick Perez (tripping) and Arie Postmus (slashing) didn’t go in the home team’s favour.
In the second, starting goaltender for the Rebels, Jordan Gluck, started to come under pressure and the Nitehawks began to pull away on the shot clock.
Riley Brandt took a feed from Jordon Magico and snapped one home in the last 20 seconds of the period, and the Rebels early lead had not only vanished but also turned into a Beaver Valley one goal lead.
The Rebels penalty kill was consistently good (four for five) but the opposite was true when they were on the man advantage. In five power play opportunities, the Rebels were unable to figure out goaltender Zach Perehudoff.
Carrying the lead into the third, the Nitehawks converted with 10:34 to play in regulation — while the team’s leading point-getter on the night, Diego Bartlett, was sitting for high-sticking.
It was Nitehawks’ forward Ryan Edwards who scored what would prove to be the game winner from Connor Brown-Maloski and Dan Holland.
With just over eight minutes to play, Rebels forward Darren Medeiros netted a quick wrist shot from the right side of Perehudoff to put Castlegar within one, but even a final push by six skaters couldn’t get the equalizer.
More than 380 were in attendance for the clash of the Neil Murdoch Division rivals; cheers from Beaver Valley fans were not an insignificant part of the night.
The Rebels will look to even the series in Game two, which goes tomorrow at the Castlegar Complex at 7:30 p.m.