Playing without a slew of key regulars due to suspension, the Valley West Hawks still managed to earn three of a possible four points last weekend to stay on top of the BC Major Midget League standings.
On Saturday in Abbotsford, the midget hockey squad fought to a 2-2 with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds, and Sunday afternoon, rebounded with a 4-3 victory over the same squad.
With the three points, Valley West still sits in first place in the MML with a record of 6-0-1 (win-loss-tie), tied with the Cariboo Cougars.
And while their weekend performance wasn’t vintage Valley West, according to head coach Jessie Leung, he was happy to escape undefeated, considering the circumstances, which included playing without suspended forward Justyn Gurney, who sits third in MML scoring with 16 points in six games.
Gurney was among four players suspended after what Leung described as “a pretty spirited weekend” in Prince George last week.
“We played OK. We were short quite a few bodies, and some pretty important ones, and there’s always an adjustment playing on Olympic-sized ice (at the Abbotsford Recreation Centre),” Leung told Black Press from Calgary, where he was coaching with Team BC’s under-16 team.
“I wish we would’ve found a way to pull out two points Saturday, but a tie was good for us. We had a few opportunities in overtime, but their goalie came up big with some stops.”
On Saturday, neither team scored in the opening 20 minutes, but Fraser Valley took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Dawson Penner. The Hawks tied the score before the second intermission, however, when Nolan Krogfoss scored.
Semiahmoo Minor Hockey product Kabir Gill had the Hawks’ second goal, and Surrey’s Tyler Ho – who currently leads the MML in scoring – added two assists.
“On Saturday, (Fraser Valley) found a way to bury their chances,” said Leung. “On one, it was on a power-play on a quick transition (up the ice) and on the other one, they just caught us napping a bit in the second period.”
On Sunday, Valley West got two goals from Bobby Russell – both coming in the third period – as well as single markers from Calder Newson and Trevor Isaksson.
Sahvan Hill had two assists in the win.
The Hawks play just one game this weekend, a Sunday tilt against the fourth-place Greater Vancouver Canadians at South Surrey Arena, and then play them again Tuesday evening.
Leung said it’s of vital importance that his team get back to winning both ends of such doubleheaders if they want to stay among the MML’s other elite teams.
“You’re going to have to win the weekends against the other top teams to get a real leg up, but it’s those weekends where you play the teams that are fourth through eighth in our league where you have to keep winning,” he explained.
“Every team in this league has a goalie who can steal a game or a high-end forward who can beat you, so there are no games you can afford to lose.”