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Riders and Nitehawks clash in conference final
By Matt Laurin
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks have taken a 2 – 1 series lead, after doubling up the Riders on Tuesday night in Fernie.
After splitting the first two games in Trail, special teams proved to be the difference as the Hawks tallied three times on the man advantage to win game three 4 – 2.
Beaver Valley went three for six on the powerplay, while the Ghostriders were held scoreless on six opportunities.
“If you’re going to be minus three on special teams it’s going to be tough to win,” said Ghostriders head coach Will Verner following the loss.
“Five on five we felt we had the momentum, and it’s disappointing we couldn’t cash in on one of our powerplays in the last ten minutes. You score on one of those and who knows what happens in overtime.”
Dallas Calvin opened the scoring for the Nitehawks fifteen minutes into the first period, before Connor McLaughlin got the hometown crowd on their feet with less than a minute to play.
Working a strong forecheck down low, Brendan Magnone found McLaughlin in the slot, who buried the wrist shot for his league leading sixteenth goal of the playoffs.
The second period was barely underway when Calvin Johnson scored the Hawks second powerplay goal of the game.
Derek Georgopolous answered back for the Riders, scoring his first goal since returning to the line up after missing several weeks with an injury.
The Hawks regained the lead late in the second, when Tyler Collins banged in a rebound which proved to be the game winning goal.
Despite outshooting the Hawks 14 –3 in the third period, the Ghostriders could not beat goaltender Zach Perehudoff, who was outstanding between the pipes.
Verner was happy with his team’s play in the final twenty minutes.
“They’re a really skilled team when you give them time and space, and I thought we did a much better job of taking that away from them. If we play like we did in the third period we’re going to win more often than not.”
“We’re going to get back at them tonight. It’s going to be a great series.”
Fernie hosts the Nitehawks Wednesday night, before the series shifts back to Beaver Valley for game five. A Riders win in either game means game six goes Saturday night at Fernie Memorial Arena.
Check back for results, and make sure to follow the Free Press on Twitter for live updates (@FernieFreePress).