The final day of the 2022/23 KIJHL regular season begins with three clubs — the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Grand Forks Border Bruins and Nelson Leafs — all battling for top spot in the Neil Murdoch Division.
Following a Nelson win over the Border Bruins and a Nitehawks victory in Castlegar on Friday night, the trio sits tied with 51 points each.
Grand Forks has the edge heading into the final night of the season on account of holding the tiebreaker over both of their division rivals. Thus, Border Bruins are guaranteed of finishing in first place with a regulation or overtime win over Castlegar on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the winner of the Nelson-Beaver Valley game on Fruitvale can finish first should Grand Forks lose to the Rebels. There is one other scenario — the combination of a Grand Forks shootout win and a Nitehawks regulation or overtime win — that would see Beaver Valley finish first based on having the superior head-to-head record.
It’s come down to the wire for a trio of Neil Murdoch division clubs, as the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Grand Forks Border Bruins and Nelson Leafs all enter the final weekend of regular season play with the possibility of finishing anywhere between first and third in the final divisional standings.
Grand Forks heads into the weekend with a clear advantage as they sit on 51 points and hold the tiebreaker advantage with 24 wins. But things can change quickly in a division where the Nitehawks and Leafs sit just two points back with two games to play.
Friday night’s action includes Grand Forks travelling to Nelson and Castlegar hosting Beaver Valley. The Border Bruins are the only team that can clinch first place tonight, and that would take a win over the Leafs combined with a Nitehawks loss. The more likely scenario is that it all comes down to a pair of Saturday night games, when Nelson visits Beaver Valley and Grand Forks welcomes Castlegar.
There’s an extra wrinkle this season as well, since the team that finishes in first place will have its choice of a first round playoff opponent, selecting between the division’s third place club or the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, who are crossing over into the fourth seed after placing ahead of the Castlegar Rebels. Once top spot is determined, that club will have until 12 P.M. PT on Sunday to make their decision.
All KIJHL games are broadcast live on HockeyTV.