Nitehawks forward nets 100th career goal in win over Spokane

Beaver Valley Nitehawks veteran Bradley Ross celebrated a rare milestone on Saturday at the Hawks Nest.

The 19-year-old Trail native scored his 100th career goal, tallied a hat trick and three assists, and notched the game winner in a 7-2 drubbing of the Spokane Braves.

Ross’ first goal of the game and 99th career tally turned out to be the game winner, as he broke into the Spokane zone toe-dragged around the defenceman then sniped the top corner for a 3-1 Hawks lead with just two seconds left in the opening frame.

“He was just on fire tonight,”said Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones. “He made some unbelievable plays, he showed what kind of player he is, and he’s been a really good player in the league for a long time. His effort and commitment to playing the right way and working hard has really paid off – 100 goals is a lot of goals.”

The win completed the sweep of the home-and-home with the Braves following a 6-3 victory on Friday night, and a 3-1 win against the Castlegar Rebels on Tuesday. B.V. remains two points up on the Nelson Leafs in the race for the Neil Murdoch Division title, after Nelson beat the Castlegar Rebels 4-2 on Saturday.

“I felt like we’ve had some timely scoring, I think our goaltending has been awesome, and we started to finally get a little momentum with some players back,” said Jones.

After missing almost a month due to injury, veteran forward Angus Amadio returned to the Hawks line up on Friday and also had a strong game playing between Ross and Morgan Peace, chipping in with a goal and three assists.

Spokane went up 1-0 at 16:58 of the first period on a goal from Derek Humphries, but John Usselman took a Phil Lessard pass on the doorstep and beat Austin Madge low glove side to tie it at 12:42.

Amadio and Ross then set up Brock Wallace in front and the Grande Prairie native fired a low shot past Madge for a 2-1 lead at the 9:40 mark.

Ross’ 100th goal came at 16:05 of the second period. Amadio sent a pass to Ross down the right boards, he drove past the defenceman, cut across the slot, then backhanded the puck over a sprawling Braves goalie for a 4-1 B.V. lead.

“It’s pretty crazy,” said Ross. “I thought when I was approaching it, it was kind of surreal, then tonight everyone congratulating me and my teammates there after the game, I don’t know it’s hard to put into words.”

The six-point night gives Ross 190 points in 176 regular season games over four years with the Hawks, including 32 goals and 65 points this season. Trail native Dallas Calvin holds the team goal scoring career high with 122 goals, and Ross said, he’d certainly like to have the ‘bragging rights’ on the former Nitehawk.

Ross also has 18 playoff goals, and is poised to add to that total as the Nitehawks wind down their regular season with six games to play.

“I feel really confident about our team,” said Ross. “We’re a great team especially when we play to our full potential, we’ve had games where we haven’t played to that, but when we play to our full potential I think we can beat anyone. It’s just coming in every night and working hard.”

Ross then set up Kaden Katelinikoff in front, and the Hawks defenceman went top shelf for a 5-1 B.V. lead with 3:34 to play in the middle frame.

Spokane’s Alex Engren intercepted an errant pass from Hawks goalie Kevin Engman and put it into the open net to cut the lead to 5-2.

Ross and Amadio finished off the scoring in the third period for the 7-2 victory, giving the Hawks their third straight win of the week.

“I feel like right now we’re kind of hitting our stride, we’re playing 60 minutes hard and we’ve played some games we haven’t,” added Ross. “But I think it’s all coming together now, and perfect timing (for playoffs).”

B.V. outshot the Braves 41-31, and went 1-for-4 on the power play, while Spokane was 0-for-5.

On Friday in Spokane, affiliate player Kai Birks netted a hat trick for Beaver Valley in a 6-3 victory against the Braves. The Trail Midget Rep player tallied his first as a Nitehawk in a wild shootout that saw the two teams combine for more than 100 shots on goal.

Ross, Birks, and Simon Nemethy gave the Hawks a 3-0 lead, but Spokane stormed back to tie it in the second period. Birks netted his second at 11:46 of the third period for the game winner and completed the hat trick three minutes later. Phil Lessard scored a power-play marker for the Hawks in the 6-3 win.

Hunter Young was solid in net, facing 54 shots, while B.V. fired 53 at Braves goalie Marcello De Antunano.

While the Nitehawks got Amadio and Ethan Jang back from injury, they also received news that two of their players were done for the season.

“We’ve had some great efforts from APs, especially Kai Birks last night, a big effort,” said Jones. “But we’ve had some season-ending injuries to Jesse Ihas and Marcus McEachern, so that is really hard.”

Defenceman Quaid Andersen is also still sidelined, and B.V. will miss key energy player Zachary Park for the next three-to-four weeks due to an upper body injury. The short bench is going to be difficult to fill especially with the Major Midget and Midget Rep teams finishing their respective seasons and preparing for playoffs and provincials in March.

Despite the injuries, Jones is confident the team is ready for another lengthy playoff run.

“I feel like we’re starting to get there. We still have things to work on with special teams, and systems play, but Ryan MacDonald has been a huge addition to our team, and to see Hunter Young in the form he’s playing right now, this is where we thought he would be, and he’s really carrying our team. We’re getting some really good line combinations … and we just have to keep grinding away and keep working our combinations. Nelson is right on our tail, and Spokane has a good team, and they play us tough down there, so we got lots of work to do and we’ll keep at it.”

Beaver Valley returns to action on Friday in Spokane, and will host the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Saturday at 7 p.m.