Maybe Tyler Nypower was feeling generous after a win.
When asked who had the nicer breakaway goal Friday, both Nypower and his Nelson Leafs teammate Reid Wilson agreed on the spot it was Wilson’s.
Wilson had to laugh. “I thought he was going to say [his] too.”
Wilson and Nypower’s goals helped lift a Leafs’ team to a 4-1 win over the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
The game featured three consecutive breakaway goals, the first coming from Beaver Valley’s Kevin Duguid in an opening 20 minutes that gave the impression the Leafs were still carrying some holiday weight.
But Wilson’s second-period goal, in which he turned on the jets, deked and fired top corner, woke Nelson up.
“[Emery Neilson] made a great pass,” said Wilson. “I don’t know how that got through their D-man and a forward but it snuck through to me. I tried to carry some speed and cut back in and put it in.”
Cole Wyatt and Shawn Campbell also scored as the Leafs (23-9-1) won their fourth straight game, while goaltender Hunter Young made 23 saves.
Saran Virdee stopped 28 shots for the Nitehawks (18-12-4).
In Nelson’s first home game since Dec. 8, Beaver Valley used an effective counter attack that disrupted the Leafs’ power play and gave the visitors a healthy shot advantage through the first period.
Nelson’s best chance came late in the period when David Sanchez stripped the puck from a Beaver Valley defenceman on a penalty kill and had the breakaway only to fan on the shot against Virdee.
A similar play occurred minutes later for the Nitehawks. Leafs defenceman Nicholas Onofrychuk let a pass slip through his skates at the Nitehawks blueline. That allowed Duguid a breakaway of his own, which the forward finished with a shot through Young’s pads for the 1-0 lead.
Young opened the second period with a terrific save. Nitehawks forward Simon Nemethy was uncontested with the puck but had two shots blocked from in close by the Leafs netminder.
Wilson’s goal tied the game with 1:53 left in the second period, and Nypower gave his team the lead in the third. He took a pass in the neutral zone from Mitchell Lavoie and had, you guessed it, a breakaway that he finished with a goal on Virdee.
Nypower said he prefers the classic Pavel Datsyuk breakaway move in practice — in which the skater fakes a forehand, draws back and fires on a drag — but he kept it simple Friday. “I knew the guy was one me so I skated pretty fast, made a couple moves and put it top.”
Leafs head coach Mario DiBella said he thought there was no one reason for all the one-on-one opportunities.
“Sometimes it just happens because we’re cheating to offence and we’re not supporting the defencemen as they come up the ice, and sometimes it’s just a bounce off a shin pad that catches somebody flat-footed.”
Wyatt gave Nelson a two-goal advantage shortly after. He took possession at centre ice, deked around one Nitehawk and whipped a shot that appeared to take an odd bounce past Virdee for the 3-1 lead.
Campbell put the game out of reach with Nelson’s third goal of the period. Sanchez won a faceoff cleanly and Campbell fired a one-timer off the pass to stun Virdee with 2:23 left in the game.
Nelson will have its roster set for the remainder of the season by its next home game on Jan. 11, one day after the KIJHL trade deadline.
DiBella said he didn’t expect much change for a team that’s currently seven points ahead of the Nitehawks atop the Neil Murdoch Division.
“I think we like where we’re at,” he said. “We have room for a couple of additions. We’re searching for what we can bring in for a couple key pieces. We’ve got one, if not two, pieces of that puzzle figured out and we’re just waiting to see what the results of that are.”
Leaflets: The Leafs were without Jack Karran (suspension), Scott Lancaster (upper body), Logan Wullum (upper) and Alex Erichuk (illness). … Nelson next visits the Castlegar Rebels on Saturday.