Valley West Hawks defenceman Mitch Savage takes a hit from Darian Long of the Cariboo Cougars during a BC Hockey Major Midget League game Sunday at the Langley Events Centre. Cariboo won 5-2.

Valley West Hawks defenceman Mitch Savage takes a hit from Darian Long of the Cariboo Cougars during a BC Hockey Major Midget League game Sunday at the Langley Events Centre. Cariboo won 5-2.

Gurney leaves the Hawks

Major Midget team loses a forward, two games to Cougars

The Valley West Hawks endured a pair of defeats on home ice last weekend, and will have to deal with another loss for the rest of the BC Hockey Major Midget League season.

The Hawks fell 6-1 and 5-2 to the Cariboo Cougars at the Langley Events Centre, playing for the first time without forward Justyn Gurney, who has joined the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League for the remainder of the season. Gurney had scored eight times and assisted on 18 other goals in 19 games this season.

“We’re excited for Justyn and wish him the best with the Hitmen,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung. “Our goal as an organization is to prepare players for the next level and it speaks to our success when they move on.”

The two losses left the Hawks with a 15-8-1-2 (win-loss-tie-overtime loss) record, and the team slipped to fifth place in the 11-team league, one point back of the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds. Fraser Valley swept the North Island Silvertips in a two-game series in Abbotsford last weekend.

Against the Cougars, Valley West trailed 1-0 and 6-1 at the period breaks in Saturday’s loss. Nolan Krogfoss netted the lone goal for the Hawks, scoring on the powerplay after the Cougars had built a 4-0 lead.

“We outshot them but still found ourselves down 2-0 after the first period,” said Leung. “We generated more quality chances but couldn’t capitalize whereas they scored on two breakdowns in our end. Then the second period turned the game in favour of the Cougars.”

Joshua Dias started in goal for Valley West, but left the game after 30 minutes with Cariboo enjoying a 4-0 lead. Reece Klassen played the last half of the game, conceding three goals.

Sunday’s game wasn’t decided until the third period.

Cariboo took an early 2-0 lead after just six minutes of play. Bruce Anderson tallied for Valley West late in the first period to cut the difference to 2-1 after 20 minutes.

After the Cougars tallied late in the second frame to restore the two-goal lead, Brayden Wick of Valley West cut the difference to 3-2 with 17 minutes left in the game.

“I thought we showed a lot of character in the third period,” said Leung. “We dug in and kept up the pressure and the attack. Although the chances were there, we couldn’t find the equalizer.”

Cariboo put the game out of reach with an insurance goal with seven minutes remaining and an empty net goal in the final minute of play.

Klassen played a full game in net for the Hawks, giving up four goals.

Valley West will have a chance to reclaim fourth position in the standings next weekend, as they play the Canadians twice.

The teams face-off Saturday evening in Abbotsford, then play again Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Langley Events Centre.