Last week, just a few days prior to his team’s first-round BC Major Midget League playoff series against the Vancouver NE Chiefs, Valley West Hawks’ head coach Rob Evers cautioned that, in a do-or-die playoff round, there are no sure things.
“If our league has proved anything this year, it’s that anyone can beat anyone,” he told Peace Arch News.
Turns out, he was right – much to his chagrin, and that of his top-seeded Hawks, who bowed out of the post-season Sunday afternoon after a 3-2 loss to the Chiefs. The win gave Vancouver a 2-1 victory in the best-of-three weekend series, and boosted them into the league’s semifinal round.
Tough way to end a season. Hawks lose 3-2. We wish the @NEChiefs_MML all the best of luck in round 2.
— Valley West Hawks (@vwhawks) March 18, 2018
Valley West, meanwhile, is finished for the season, despite a league-best regular-season record of 31-6-2-1 (win-loss-tie-overtime loss).
Though Evers could not be reached for comment, he tweeted Sunday afternoon that the Game 3 loss was a “tough way to end a season.”
“We wish the (Chiefs) all the best of luck in round 2,” he continued.
In Game 1 of the series Friday night at South Surrey Arena, the No. 8-ranked Chiefs edged the Hawks 4-3 on the strength of a two-goal third period. Vancouver opened the scoring, on a goal from Cody Hough, but the lead lasted just two minutes – Valley West’s Walker Erickson tied the game before the period wrapped.
In the second period, the Hawks took the lead on a goal from South Surrey’s Tyler Chyzowski – Brayden Wick and Dawson Penner added assists – but this time it was the Chiefs’ turn to tie the game, which they did with just under six minutes remaining before the second intermission.
The Chiefs went up 3-2 at the 5:02 mark of the third period on a goal from Ryan Suzukovich, and Valley West replied shortly thereafter with a tally from Justin Sourdif – the BCMML’s leading point-getter during the regular season.
The winning tally – from Vancouver’s Jackson Murphy-Johnson – came with just over seven minutes left to play.
Game 2 of the best-of-three showdown – which was played at South Surrey Arena on Saturday afternoon – went more smoothly for the Hawks, who scored three second-period goals – two of which came on the power play – to knot the series at 1-1.
After the Chiefs took a 1-0 lead in the first period, the hometown Hawks exploded early in the middle frame, with Sourdif, Cameron MacDonald and Penner scoring in just over five minutes.
And though Vancouver made it a one-goal game midway through the third period – on a Justin Scott goal – the Hawks iced it with an empty-net marker late, from MacDonald.
Nolan Krogfoss added three assists in the victory, and goalie Josh Dias earned the win between the pipes.
In Sunday’s rubber match at the Langley Events Centre, Valley West got goals from Davis Frank and Krogfoss in the second period, but the team saw its 2-1 lead evaporate in the third. Hough scored 43 seconds into the period to tie it, and Jack Steffens scored what would turn out to be the winner goal with 3:57 left on the clock.
As was the case in Saturday’s win – in which the Hawks outshot the Chiefs 28-12 – Valley West again peppered their opponents with shots on Sunday; after the first period, they had outshot Vancouver 22-8. However, Chiefs’ goalie Michael Harroch kept his team in the game until the third, when they took the lead.
The win marked the first time in BCMML history that an eighth seed had beaten a No. 1 in the first round.
Now, the Chiefs move on to play the Prince George-based Cariboo Cougars.
“Why not us… history was made but we’re not done,” Chiefs defenceman Dylan Ford tweeted after the victory.