Nitehawks back on winning track, hold off Posse

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks ended their six game winless streak with a determined team effort and an impressive performance from the B.V. goalie.

Nitehawks netminder Noah Decottignies made 34 stops and recent addition Cole Gibson scored the winning goal as the Hawks defeated the Princeton Posse 2-1 in KIJHL action Saturday night at the Beaver Valley Arena.

Gibson scores game winner

“It’s been a while since we had a win,” said Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones. “I thought our effort had been pretty good through a good portion of that, but when you’re in a rut you always find a way to lose.”

Gibson scored his first as a Nitehawk since coming over from the Fernie Ghostriders on Oct. 25 for futures. Defenceman Luke Woodrow spotted Gibson off the right post and delivered a perfect pass to the 18-year-old forward, who made no mistake on the conversion to give the Hawks the 2-1 lead with 46 seconds remaining in the middle frame.

The addition of Gibson, a Calgary native, came as a result of the departure of Reese Tambellini, who left the Nitehawks to pursue an opportunity in the United States.

The Nitehawks jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 10:25 of the first period. A persistent Ryan Crisalli forecheck forced the Posse d-man off the puck, and he dished to Michael Hagen at the half wall, and Hagen found Paul Leroux all alone in front. The Hawks leading scorer made no mistake firing it high stick side for his eighth goal and 22nd point of the season.

The play went back and forth through much of the first period with the Nitehawks holding a 13-9 edge in shots, but Posse goaltender Jaysen MacLean, a former Kootenay Ice goalie, was also solid in the Princeton net.

The Posse took the play to the Nitehawks in the second, finally beating the B.V. goalie with 2:06 left in the period on a wicked one timer from Tristan Walz.

But Decottignies remained poised and confident, as the Posse fired 17 shots at the B.V. goal in the middle frame. The Calgary native returned to the team last weekend after going through the concussion protocol from a head injury incurred on Oct. 7.

“He provides that level of steadiness that we like in a goaltender. He doesn’t get rattled and he’s been pretty consistent all year, and when he was out, we definitely missed that consistency.”

Gibson provided the winner 80 seconds later, and the Hawks played tight defensive hockey in the third period, killing off a penalty in the final four minutes to earn the victory.

“In the past, those moments would kill us, so it was nice to pull it out even with that happening.”

Princeton outshot B.V. 35-29 and went 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Nitehawks were 0-for-1. Decottignies and MacLean earned player of the game honours.

The Nitehawks also welcomed forwards Bradley Ross and Angus Amadio, as well as d-man Quaid Anderson back to the line up. The two dominant forwards combined for 32 points in 15 games, and have been out since being injured in a game against the Nelson Leafs on Oct. 6. Forwards Simon Nemethy and Morgan Peace are still out with injury, but Jones is hopeful for their return.

“Depth is always important and when you lose four of your top guys, it certainly creates, I don’t know if it’s a burden, but it creates that opportunity for guys to step up, and we certainly needed some step up and we didn’t always get it. That’s what was tested, and it showed us we have some work to do, and just having our guys back in the line up on Saturday gave us a bit more confidence, and that was awesome.”

The Nitehawks improved their record to 9-8-1-1 and are tied with 9-7-0-2 Spokane for second in the Neil Murdoch Division, six points back of an idle 13-5-0-0 Nelson Leafs team this weekend.

B.V. is on the road next weekend playing the Dynamiters in Kimberley on Friday and the Rebels in Castlegar on Saturday.