Bobby Russell (right) of the Valley West Hawks trips Vancouver Canadians forward Michael Araki-Young during a Major Midget league game Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.

Hawks sweep Canadians, remain unbeaten

Major Midget team chasing first place after near-perfect start to the season

After four weeks of play, the Valley West Hawks are the only undefeated team in the BC Hockey Major Midget League.

The Hawks swept the Vancouver Canadians last weekend by scores of 4-1 and 3-2, and with a 5-0-1 (win-loss-tie) record, are second only to the 6-2-0 Vancouver Giants in the standings.

The Hawks, coming off a bye week Oct. 3-4, make up their two games in hand on the Giants next weekend in Nelson against the 1-4-1 Kootenay Ice, and could take over first place next week.

Valley West head coach Jessie Leung said his team was rusty for the first period of last Saturday’s game at the Langley Events Centre.

The Canadians scored the game’s first goal after seven minutes of play, but Ben Evanish of the Hawks tied the score before the first intermission with his league-leading eighth goal of the season.

“We looked to be a step behind and were over complicating the game,” said Leung. “We’ve preached ‘elite execution of simple plays’ all season and I thought we got away from that to start. All told, we played our worst period of hockey all season and still entered the break tied 1-1.”

Valley West stepped up their game in the second period, scoring a go-ahead goal just 30 seconds into the session and an insurance marker with 72 seconds remaining.

“We connected on two odd man rushes,” Leung said. “Our players were rewarded for attacking the net like we’ve drawn up in practice.”

Armahn Sidhu netted the first goal, and Josh Bruce notched the second. Luka Burzan added the fourth Hawks goal into an empty net, his third point of the game.

The Hawks scored once in each period of Sunday’s rematch in Coquitlam. Evanish scored his ninth goal of the season 11 minutes into the game, but the Canadians tied the score 1-1 in the last minute of the first period.

Christian Bosa put the Hawks up 2-0 after two periods, and after the Canadians tied the score with nine minutes remaining, Colten Gerlib scored the winner for Valley West with two minutes to go.

“We did everything right on Sunday, but just couldn’t beat the goalie,” said Leung. “I think we could have done a better job getting to rebounds but I give credit where it’s due and the Canadians goalie (Lukas) Shaw was good.”

BLUE LINES: After their weekend in Nelson, the Hawks will face-off against the Giants in what will likely be a showdown between the top two teams in the MML.

Ben Evanish of the Hawks, from White Rock, is tied for fourth in the MML scoring race with 12 points, including a league-high nine goals.

Valley West’s Luka Burzan, the Surrey resident claimed sixth overall in last spring’s Western Hockey League Bantam Draft by the Moose Jaw Warriors, is also tied for fourth with 12 points. He is tied for the league lead in assists with 11.