A wild third-period rally fell just short for the Castlegar Rebels in Game 2 of the Neil Murdoch division final.
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks earned the all-important split with a wild 7-6 victory Saturday in front of 483 fans at the Complex.
After opening the scoring on a Ryon Sookro breakaway just 14 seconds into the game, Fruitvale’s KIJHL entry enjoyed a 3-1 lead through 20 minutes on goals by Mason Spear and Derek Lashuk, while Spencer Brodt scored his first of two goals on the night in the opening frame.
Beaver Valley picked up where they left off in the second, picking up power-play goals from captain Colton Donselaar and Sookro to chase Rebels starting netminder Cole Buckley, though Castlegar’s Jamie Vlanich put home a late marker to cut the ‘Hawks lead to 5-2 through two periods.
But despite the three-goal lead, the visitors weren’t out of the woods.
After Donselaar and Rebels rookie Jesse Knowler traded tallies in the first two minutes of the third period, Nitehawks forward Keanan Patershuk put home a wrist shot after linemate Ryan Edwards picked off a pass at the Castlegar blue line.
The Rebels didn’t quit, however.
Stuart Walton and Brodt cut the lead to two before Tyler Robinson’s long wrist-shot deflected off the leg of a Nitehawk defenseman and through the legs of goaltender Mike Vlanich with only 1:56 remaining in regulation time.
The visitors held firm, and earned a much important split in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to Fruitvale for Game 3 and Game 4 Monday and Tuesday night.
Game 5 will be played Thursday evening in Castlegar.