McKinnon’s late-game heroics sparks Hawks past Leafs in Game one of Murdoch Final
In a series that promises to go the distance, Round one goes to Beaver Valley.Nitehawks captain Archie McKinnon scored with 20 seconds remaining in the game to power visiting Beaver Valley to a 4-3 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoff victory over the Nelson Leafs Friday night at the NDCC Arena.Beaver Valley takes a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Murdoch Division final with Game two set for Saturday right back in Nelson.“We’re really happy with the result (tonight),” said McKinnon from outside the jubilant Hawks dressing room.“It’s a big win . . . it’s in Nelson and it gives us home ice advantage in the series.” McKinnon took advantage of a pressing Hawks fore check to skate in from the Leafs blueline, jump on a loose puck and sneak a puck into the Nelson net through a maze of players.“I saw our forwards working it down low . . . I saw (Nelson’s) forwards go down low which created an opening,” McKinnon explained. “The puck popped out from behind the net and I just tried to get it by their guy and it went in.”The teams were tied 1-1 after the opening frame — Dan Holland for the Hawks and Austin Seaman replying for Nelson — and 2-2 following 40 minutes. Sheldon Hubbard scored for the visitors while Nick Trefrey replied for the Leafs.Nelson took a 3-2 lead in the third period on a deflection by Leaf forward Troy Petrick off a Darnel St. Pierre point shot.But the Hawks tied the game just over a minute later on their own seeing-eyed shot by Taylor Stafford.The teams traded scoring chances in the final minutes of the game with the Hawks making the most of their opportunity.“We looking forward to Game two,” McKinnon said. “I don’t think we played our greatest but we still came out with the win.”Beaver Valley out shot the Leafs 29-28 making a winner out of netminder Brett Clark.SERIES NOTES: Archie McKinnon, Taylor Stafford and Dallas Calvin each finished with two points for Beaver Valley. . . .The game saw the return of Leaf sniper Jamie Vlanich, who played the wing on a line with Travis Wellman and Alec Wilkinson. Vlanich, how had not played a single playoff game this season due to an upper body injury, earned an assist on the power play marker by Austin Seaman. . . . . Each team scored once with the man advantage . . . . Dallas Calvin got the call to play the second B.C. Hockey League playoff game for Vernon Lakers Wednesday against West Kelowna. . . . Game attendance was more than 700 while the 50-50 draw topped the $600 mark for the winner. . . . Creston and Osoyoos each opened their respective division finals with victories Friday, over Kimberley (4-1) and North Okanagan (3-2), respectively. Nelson Minor Hockey grad Tyler Podgrenko earned an assist for Creston.