The Beaver Valley Nitehawks move onto the final round of the KIJHL playoffs after handily beating the Creston Valley Thunder Cats four games to one in the Kootenay Conference finals.
The series ended Monday night in Creston with the Nitehawks downing the Cats 6-2.
Off a hard-fought game 7 win in the Eddie Mountain Division finals, the Thunder Cats split game one and two against Beaver Valley and visited Fruitvale for game three.
“We knew it was going to be really challenging,” said head coach Josh Hepditch.
The Thunder Cats lost game three 6-2 and the following game on Saturday 5-3.
When the series returned to Creston for Monday’s game five, the Nitehawks scored early in the first period. Trevor Hanna responded with a power-play goal just over a minute later, but Beaver Valley goals put the Thunder Cats behind 3-1 by the end of the period. The visitors scored the second period’s only goal, and twice in the third period before Connor Kidd scored the Thunder Cats’ final goal of the season with 4:54 remaining.
“The guys didn’t quit, which was great,” said Hepditch. “They threw everything they could at them, but just couldn’t find a way to get that momentum again.”
And the experience the players — including this season’s 10 rookies — gained in the playoffs is something they can build on next year.
“They’ll come back hungrier,” Hepditch said.
Beaver Valley goes onto play the Storm in Kamloops on Friday night. Kamloops defeated Osoyoos Coyotes four games to one with the final game taken by the Storm on Sunday.
The Storm outshot the Coyotes 64 to 25 in the 6-2 win that takes them to the league championship.
The series returns to the West Kootenay on Monday, March 31 with action at the Fruitvale Beaver Valley Arena starting at 7 p.m.
-with files from Brian Lawrence, Creston Valley Advance