Valley West Hawks forward Justyn Gurney takes a tumble during a game last season. Gurney had five points in two weekend games.

Valley West Hawks forward Justyn Gurney takes a tumble during a game last season. Gurney had five points in two weekend games.

Valley West Hawks take aim at title defence

BC Major Midget League hockey team wins first two games of season last weekend.

Coming off the most successful season in team history, the BC Major Midget Hockey League’s Valley West Hawks’ first weekend couldn’t have gone much better.

But as defending league champions, head coach Jessie Leung is well aware of the target on his squad’s back, which is why – even after a pair of road wins to start the season – he wasn’t 100 per cent happy with how his team performed.

On Saturday in Lake Cowichan, the Hawks rode a red-hot power play to a 6-2 win over the South Island Royals, and Sunday, followed up with a 4-3 overtime win over the same team, this time in Victoria.

“It’s always good to start with two wins,” Leung said.

“Even though It wasn’t exactly the way we wanted to script it.”

By Leung’s count, his team only played “about 18 minutes” of good hockey Saturday, but were buoyed by a lethal power play that connected five times.

On Sunday, the team “wasn’t quite as sharp” and only scored once with the man-advantage, which led to the team having to squeak out a victory in overtime on a goal from Justyn Gurney, who recently returned to the MML squad after spending training camp with the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen.

“The power-play was the difference. We didn’t play our best and we still skated away with a 6-2 win,” said Leung of the season-opening tilt.

“But we know that, after the year we had, there are no easy games – we can’t take anybody by surprise,” he said,

“Everybody wants to take us down.”

Gurney was the offensive catalyst for Valley West in the two Island games, as was captain Kabir Gill and Jarret Raymond.

Gurney, a forward, scored twice and added three assists in the two games, while Gill – like Gurney, in his second year with the team – had one goal and four assists in the two wins.

Last year, the Hawks – made up of elite-level 15- to 17-year-olds from the Cloverdale, Surrey, Semiahmoo and North Delta minor hockey associations – were first in the league with a regular-season record of 33-6-1 (win-loss-tie), and also captured a BCMML playoff title, defeating the Cariboo Cougars in a best-of-three championship series.

The team advanced to the Pacific Region finals, where they eventually lost to Lloydminster.

This year’s team will be without two offensive stars from last year, as Luka Burzan and James Malm have moved on to the WHL, with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Vancouver Giants, respectively, but Leung is confident his new squad will again find success.

In addition to Gurney and Gill, returnees from last year include Bobby Russell – recently returned from the WHL’s Kootenay Ice – Mitchell Savage, Carson Franklin and goaltender Reece Klassen.

“You typically see a monumental jump from players in their second years, and it was nice to see some of our guys get some experience (in the WHL) – they’ll come in with a lot of confidence,” Leung said.

“It’s a different group of kids and a new day, but I’m really happy with our group and I believe we’ll be a high-end team in our league again this year.

“We’re very deep up front. We might not be able to turn to a single player to take over a game – guys like Burzan and Malm were two very special players – so everyone will have to pull their weight.”

The Hawks will play a pair of home games in the Lower Mainland this weekend – both at Richmond’s Olympic Oval against the visiting Thompson Blazers, who are 1-1 so far in the young season, having split a pair of games on opening weekend against the North Island Silvertips.

The two squads will face off Saturday at 3:15 p.m., followed by another game Sunday at the same time.

BC Major Midget LeagueValley West Hawks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Deb Jack was named Surrey’s Good Citizen of the Year in 2012. (File photo)
Environmentalists’ delegation takes aim at Bear Creek Park road project

‘Bear Creek Park is ours – a natural heritage,’ Deb Jack says

Surrey-raised rapper Merkules outside his old Green Timbers-area house. Its looming demolition triggers some memories for the musician. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
VIDEO: Rapper Merkules visits old Surrey home one final time before its demolition

‘It’s weird seeing the place gutted like this,’ he says of the Green Timbers-area rancher

In a letter to Fraser Health president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee dated May 11, Delta Mayor George Harvie confirmed the city’s interest in acquiring a head lease for the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care, with the intention of subletting it to the recently-formed Heron Hospice Society of Delta. (The Canadian Press photo)
Mayor confirms Delta’s interest in leasing Centre for Supportive Care

Harvie says city intends to sublet the facility to recently-formed Heron Hospice Society of Delta

The City of Surrey has moved a step closer to its single-use plastics and styrofoam ban, approving a communication and education plan for businesses. (File photo)
Surrey moves forward with single-use plastics ban, anticipated to take effect in November

‘Communication and education plan’ to prepare businesses approved

The north lane of White Rock’s Marine Drive will be closed to traffic as a result of a decision by council, aimed at providing more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock council votes to make Marine Drive one-way route

North lane of waterfront drive to be closed to traffic, allowing for expanded restaurant patios

Surrey-raised rapper Merkules outside his old Green Timbers-area house. Its looming demolition triggers some memories for the musician. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
VIDEO: Rapper Merkules visits old Surrey home one final time before its demolition

‘It’s weird seeing the place gutted like this,’ he says of the Green Timbers-area rancher

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read