The Valley West Hawks capped off the most memorable regular season in its 10-year history last weekend in Nanaimo.
Now they have to do their best to forget about it, and focus on the BC Hockey Major Midget League playoffs which begin today (Friday).
“Our entire season to this point was about getting us to playoffs,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung, after the Hawks swept the North Island Silvertips 6-2 and 9-3 to finish atop the 11-team league. “Now all bets are off and everyone has a clean slate.”
Valley West finished the regular season with a 33-6-1 (win-loss-tied) record, setting club records for most wins, fewest losses and most points (67).
Ben Evanish scored his 41st goal last weekend to set a new single-season club record, and Christian Bosa tallied four points Sunday to reach 100 points in his MML career. Evanish also finished as the league’s leading scorer with 70 points in 38 games.
Playing two games which meant nothing in the standings – the Hawks had already clinched first place while North Island was far out of a playoff position – was a challenge, admitted Leung.
“It would have been very easy for our team to under-perform this weekend. It was a mental challenge to stay on point,” he said. “It was an opportunity for us to play our full lineup and an opportunity for us to face and overcome a different sort of challenge.”
Valley West buried the Silvertips with four third-period goals Saturday. The Hawks had affiliate players Calder Newson and Brendan Marfleet in the lineup, and both got on the scoresheet. Newson had a pair of goals while Marfleet had one goal and two assists.
Carson Franklin also netted one goal and assisted on two others. Luka Burzan and Evanish completed the goal scoring.
In Sunday’s win, the Hawks scored six times in the second period on their way to another one-sided win. Evanish collected three goals, Bosa earned two goals and a pair of assists, and James Malm added a goal and three helpers.
Justyn Gurney, Michael Farren and Colten Gerlib also scored for the Hawks, who will now host the Greater Vancouver Canadians in a best-of-three quarterfinal series. Valley West won all four regular season games, outscoring the Canadians 18-6.
“We know however that means little now,” said Leung. “It will be up to our team to out-compete the other team and play within our structure to beat them.”
The series begins with games Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Sungod Arena, and 5 p.m. Sunday at Queen’s Park Arena in New Westminster.