Imagine a professional hockey team missing their two best players.
What would the Pittsburgh Penguins looks like without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin?, or the Edmonton Oilers without Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.
Imagine them doing that, and still managing to stay unbeaten.
This isn’t to say that Valley West Hawks forwards Justin Sourdif and Cameron MacDonald are the next coming of McDavid and Draisaitl, but the two young forwards are key offensive engines for the powerhouse Hawks.
With the 2017 WHL Cup kicking off this week, the two players were unavailable last weekend for a pair of games against the Greater Vancouver Canadians.
It didn’t seem to matter for head coach Rob Evers and the rest of the Hawks. In a home-and-home against the Canadians last weekend, the Hawks won 6-3 on home ice, and 3-2 at Greater Vancouver’s home arena in Richmond.
“We had a total team effort,” said Evers. “We focused on making sure everyone played a role going into the weekend.”
It would be easy for a coach to remain neutral about missing your two best players, but Evers was honest in his assessment
“I was a bit nervous about the powerplay dropping off, but Arshdeep [Bains], Max [Mohagen], and Nolan [Krogfoss] did a great job on the weekend making sure everything on the power play clicked.”
With Sourdif and MacDonald out of the lineup, Evers adjusted his lineup by putting Dawson Penner at the front of the net on the power play.
“He took a beating in front, but he managed to score a goal there. He should have had another as well.”
Apparently, Penner tipped in a shot for his second goal of the game, but the referees waived it off due to a high stick, however, Evers said the replay showed that the goal should have counted.
Penner’s effort in front of the net didn’t go unnoticed by his coach.
“Sometimes the things you do in front of the net on the opens up the play for other players on the ice,” he said.
Throughout the lineup, Evers was receiving stellar performances from his players.
“We still have some really experienced players. Players like Bains, Mohagen, and Krogfoss are high-end players in our league, and other players have stepped up.”
Two of those players included Tyler Chyzowski and Josh Pederson. Evers mentioned that the two played a shutdown role against the Canadians top line, freeing up Evers to play his top line against their third line.
On defence, things have been dicey for the Hawks. Their defence has been in tatters due to injuries this season, but they finally got some more players back in the lineup.
Braydon Clark and Brayden Wick were both in the lineup over the weekend, and Kabir Gill got into the game for the Hawks on Saturday.
One of the steadying forces on the blueline has been team captain Trevor Isaksson. The 6’2, 215 lb. defender has four goals and seven points through the first six games. He’s also one of only two defenders to suit up for all six games this season.
“Over the last season, Trevor has been huge for our team,” Evers said.
His recent performance got him noticed by the Penticton Vees. The Vees are a powerhouse in the BCHL, and they haven’t suffered a losing season since 2004-2005.
“Trevor’s goal is 100% to play junior hockey,” Evers said. “Right now, his focus is to be the captain of our team.”
Even with all the injuries on defence, goaltending has remained a strength for the Hawks.
Starting goalie Josh Dias was supposed to start on Saturday, but a skate issue meant that rookie Jayden Shull had to start the game. He didn’t disappoint, picking up his second win of the season.
“Jaden played well on Saturday so we decided to leave him in,” said Evers. “Both goalies are making saves when we need them.”
The Hawks take their unbeaten streak when they Trail to face-off against the Kootenay Ice next weekend in games on Saturday, Oct. 21st and Sunday, Oct. 22.