For the first half of the season, the Valley West Hawks were keeping pace near the top of the BC Hockey Major Midget League (MML).
Two weeks into the second half, they are setting the pace.
The Hawks handled the seventh-place Vancouver Canadians twice last weekend, winning 5-2 at the Langley Events Centre (LEC) and 6-1 a day later in Richmond. Now at 18-5-1 (win-loss-tie), Valley West has built a four-point cushion between themselves and the second-place Cariboo Cougars.
“It’s a great accomplishment for our team,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung. “There are no bad teams in our league and to be at the top of the standings at this time of year speaks to our ability to find a way to win.”
The Hawks lead the MML in scoring, with 115 goals in 24 games played, adding 11 to their total in the two games against the Canadians.
Playing a rare Friday night games at the LEC, the Hawks went up 1-0 after one period on a goal by Justyn Gurney two minutes before the intermission.
“We were flat to start Friday, we had to turn to Tally (goalie Nic Tallarico) more than we wanted to,” said Leung.” We didn’t register our first shot on net until midway through the first period having given up 10 shots. The momentum started to shift after that, Tally kept us in it until we found our legs. We would go on to out shoot the Canadians 14-12 after 20 minutes.”
Christian Bosa made it 2-0 with eight minutes left in the second period, then after the Canadians pulled to within one, Luka Burzan made it 3-1.
The Canadians scored the last goal of the second period to again get to within a goal, but Valley West closed the door in the third period with goals from Michael Farren and Bradley Stonnell.
James Malm and Oliver Alcock each had a paid of assists.
Valley West had success on the powerplay, scoring three times with the man advantage.
Saturday evening in Richmond, the Hawks were held off the scoresheet in the first period and trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes. But Valley West struck for three goals in each of the final two frames, getting two each from Malm and Ben Evanish, and singles from Burzan and Daniel Chifan.
A frustrated Canadians team took eight minor penalties in the third period, compared to just one by the Hawks, and Valley West took full advantage, scoring all three goals while on the powerplay.
“The Canadians seemed to come unravelled, they kept the parade to the penalty box which gave us the opportunity on the powerplay to pull ahead,” said Leung. “Our powerplay wasn’t great but it was good enough to power both wins.”
The Hawks are idle next weekend, but while the other 10 MML teams will all play twice, Valley West will go into the Christmas break as the top team in the league. But while league play will shut down until the new year, the Hawks will be in Calgary at the Mac’s Tournament to compete against the best Major Midget teams in Western Canada.
The draw for the 25-team competition takes place today (Wednesday).