Leafs lose to Nitehawks in dramatic turnaround

Despite an early lead, Nelson Leafs fall 7-5 in a New Year
Despite an early lead, Nelson Leafs fall 7-5 in a New Year's Eve matinee game against Beaver Valley Nitehawks played at the NDCC.
— image credit: Kirsten Hildebrand photo
Despite an early command of the game, the Nelson Leafs lost 7-5 to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in an afternoon match on New Year’s Eve at NDCC.
Three goals unanswered goals in the first period had the Leafs in command of a game for which the Nitehawks had yet to show up. Bryce Nielson scored unassisted at 2:28 into the game. Just over the 10 minute mark, Connor Gross scored from Seth Schmidt and Colton Schell. And with 3:35 left in the period, Aaron Dunlap made it 3-0 with help from James Sorrey and Dallon Stoddart.
The Nitehawks turned their game around in the second period with Connor Brown-Maloski scoring on the power play at 3:13. At 12:36, Beaver Valley’s Brandon Butlin made it 3-2. The home team salvaged the period with three seconds left. Brandon Sookro made it 4-2 at the end of the second with help from Carson Willans and Kevin Bow.
The Nitehawks commanded the third period coming out strong with three goals in 29 seconds. Kurt Black scored from Taylor Stafford and Archie McKinnon 11 seconds into the period. Dallas Calvin followed suit with Brown-Maloski getting the assists. Then, the Black/Stafford duo struck again with help from Michael Bell making it 5-4 in short order.
With the Nitehawks’ down on the ice, Bell scored a short-handed goal with 12:11 left in the third. Nick Perez assisted. It was 6-4.
The Leafs struck back at 9:04 as Schmidt made it 6-5 with help from Stoddart and Kevin Bow. One point away from the tie with Beaver Valley in the penalty box, the Leafs called a time out in the final minutes of the game.
Pulling their goalie gave the home team a two man advantage but they were unable to capitalize. The final score was 7-5 as the Nitehawks’ Calvin scored short-handed into the empty net. Stafford and Fraser Stang got the assist.
First star of the game went to Stafford, second to Leafs’ Schmidt and Calvin took third star. The win ties Beaver Valley with Castlegar for second place in the Neil Murdoch Division behind first place Nelson Leafs.
The Leafs play again on Jan. 4 against the Ghostriders in Fernie. The next home game is on Jan. 18 at NDCC. 489 people attended the New Year’s Eve game at the Nelson rink.
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