The Beaver Valley Nitehawks exploded out of the starting gate as the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs kicked off in Fruitvale last night.
The Hawks scored seven goals in the first period, including three on the power play, and rolled to a 13-2 win over the Nelson Leafs in Game 1 of their best-of-seven Neil Murdoch Division semifinal.
The Leafs have less than 24 hours to erase the debacle from their memory. The series resumes tonight with Game 2 at the Beaver Valley Arena at 7 p.m.
It was a stunning start to a series featuring a pair of teams that saw their last three regular season games decided by a single goal.
Not so last night.
After Nelson missed a couple of chances on an early power play, Beaver Valley went to work scoring shortly after the penalty kill and kick started an onslaught that delivered seven goals in a span of 13 minutes.
Keenan Patershuk, Austin Sture, Colton Donselaar, Taylor Love, Chris Derochie, Brantley Schapansky and Tyler Collins all took turns lighting the lamp behind the beleaguered Nelson netminders.
Leafs head coach Chris Shaw did what he could to shake up his charges. He called a timeout after the third goal then switched goaltenders after Beaver Valley’s fourth goal in six minutes.
However, nothing could stem the scoring tsunami.
Marcus Beesley started the game between the pipes for the Leafs before yielding to Nick Broessler. Beesley was back on the firing line to open the second period but the bulk of the damage had been done.
It didn’t help Nelson’s faint hope of a comeback when they lost Colton Schell, their leading scorer in the regular season, to a checking from behind penalty midway through the first.
It also came as no surprise that Nelson opted to stir things up to start the second when Taylor O’Neil challenged a reluctant Jean-William Caron to a fight before the period was five seconds old. The prolonged tilt only served to delay the inevitable conclusion on this night.
Other Nelson attempts to provoke the Hawks into more fights only earned the frustrated Heritage City team instigating and misconduct penalties.
Despite letting their foot off the gas after the strong start, the Nitehawks showed signs that they are playoff ready with solid play clogging up the zone and sealing off any offence the shell-shocked Leafs tried to muster.
Beaver Valley made it 8-0 midway through the second frame on Collins second marker before Nelson finally ended the Hawks’ thoughts of a shutout on top of the shellacking.
Nelson’s Raymond Reimer scored on the power play with nine minutes left in the period and Cameron Dobransky added a late marker to give the Leafs a 2-1 morale victory in the second period.
However, with the score 8-2 heading into the third, the Leafs had little fight left for the final 20 minutes.
Beaver Valley seized the opportunity to fire five more goals, two by Daniel Bishop and singles from Patershuk, Dallas Calvin and Ryan Edwards.
Once the final tally was made 10 different Nitehawks supplied goals while Love and Calvin finished with five points apiece.
Beaver Valley goaltender Mike Vlanich stopped 25 shots while the Hawks launched 44 at the Nelson cage.
Games 3 and 4 will be played Friday and Saturday in Nelson with Game 5, if necessary, Feb. 21 in Fruitvale.