A strong performance on the ice wasn’t enough for the Valley West Hawks to get a win out of a two-game set against one of the league’s top three teams.
The Hawks dropped a 5-2 decision to the Vancouver Giants Saturday night in Burnaby, then played to a 2-2 tie Sunday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre.
“It was evenly played with opportunities for both teams to come away victorious,” said Valley West head coach Jessie Leung. “We were only able to take one point from the weekend.”
The Hawks had a chance to overtake the Giants for third place in the 13-team BC Major Midget Hockey League, but instead fell to 14-8-6 (won-lost-tied) on the season. With 34 points in 28 games played, the fifth-place Hawks are three points back of the Vancouver Chiefs and four back of the Giants.
Leung had to make changes to the Valley West lineup for Saturday’s game, playing South Surrey forward Eric Bocale as a defenceman with two skaters unavailable.
“Bocale did a great job on the back end,” said Leung. “He played a simple game and made some fantastic outlet passes. Erik is one of the few forwards we could have put back there given his skating ability and vision.”
The Giants never trailed in Saturday’s game, opening the scoring after just 84 seconds of play. Surrey Minor Hockey product Justin De Vos tied the game midway through the first period, but the Giants regained the lead before the first intermission and led 3-1 going into the third period.
It was 4-1 before Ben Evanish of White Rock netted the second Hawks goal, then Shakeel Ebrahim pulled the visitors to within one with two minutes remaining and the Hawks playing with six skaters.
Vancouver closed out the scoring with an empty net goal in the final minute of play.
“We couldn’t penetrate the wall of bodies in front of the net to generate grade-A scoring opportunities,” said Leung. “And the Giants were able to convert the few mistakes we made into goals.”
Valley West welcomed back Spencer Berry top the lineup Sunday. The White Rock defenceman was injured in the second game of the season, and missed the next 25.
“I thought Berry had a great game,” said Leung. “I think he’s added some stability to our back end which will help us down the stretch.”
The Hawks were able to get a tie when James Malm of Langley scored with 4:12 to play. Valley West got the game’s first goal when Surrey’s Jeffrey Stewart after 11 minutes of play.
The Giants tied the game in the last minute of the opening period, and took their only lead of the game with nine minutes to go.
Valley West will play two home games in Richmond next weekend, playing twice against the first-place Cariboo Cougars (25-4-1).
“We are as good as any team in this league,” said Leung. “If we continue the level of play we’ve reached we give ourselves a chance to win every night.”