By Mark Berry
Special tothe Mirror
They came to the Creston Valley for Gold and left town with Silver. The Beaver Valley Nitehawks from Fruitvale, near Trail, are provincial champions after they dropped the Campbell River Storm 6-2 on Sunday evening.
Don’t let the score fool you, the VIJHL Champions came out hard with AP (affiliated player) Pearce Messer opening the scoring 28 seconds into the contest with a howitzer of a shot that beat Tallon Kramer over the shoulder. Carter Hikichi also added a shorthanded marker moments later.
The Nighthawks, with the best regular season record in the province, are a big, fast, smart and hard-working team that wear down opponents and when opportunities do arise Kramer shuts the door. By the midway point of the second period, momentum had switched and the Hawks went into cruise control waiting for any opportunity to strike.
Storm Head Coach Lee Stone said following the game, “I am so very proud of the boys who gave it everything they had on Sunday. Beaver Valley is a team that will represent B.C. very well at Keystone; they remind me of us two years ago.”
Stone’s team has appeared and medalled in three consecutive years, you have to go back 30 years to find another team that has duplicated that achievement.
The Storm found their way to the Gold medal game after a dramatic 2-1 overtime win on Saturday against the PJHL Aldergrove Kodiaks. Messer forced the extra period and Mitchell Williams scored the winner 4:07 in.
Carter Hikichi was top scorer in the tournament with six points in the four games, highlighted by a 4 point (2G 2A) performance against the Creston Valley Thundercats on Friday. The Storm won that game 6-2, with Aaron Brewer (2), Dylan McCann and Colin Blake also figuring in on the scoring.
On Thursday, Campbell River opened the tournament with a 6-0 loss to Beaver Valley. Whether it was exhaustion from the epic overtime in Victoria or the long bus trip to Creston, they couldn’t get it going.
Sunday’s Silver medal performance spelled the end of seven Junior hockey careers. Hikicki, Blake, Kobe Oishi, Chris Smith, Sheldon Brett, Christian Brandt and Brayden McCartney played hard in their final appearances as twenty year olds.
The VIJHL Champions are planning a wrap-up dinner on the weekend in Campbell River.