Vancouver Northwest Giants defenceman Ryan Bell (left) collides with Valley West Hawks’ Michael Farren during a game Saturday.

Valley West Hawks fall to Giants

Major-midget team loses for first time all season

In a battle between the BC Major Midget Hockey League’s top teams last weekend, the Valley West Hawks came up a little bit short.

In a two-game, home-and-home series against the Vancouver NW Giants, the Hawks fell 5-3 Saturday at the Langley Events Centre, before losing the rematch – played Sunday morning in North Vancouver – by a 4-1 score.

The losses were the Hawks’ first two of the season.

The two-game sweep nudged the Giants past the Hawks and into first place in the BCMML, with 16 points. Valley West sits a single point back, with a record of 7-2-1 (win-loss-tie).

“Tough weekend for us,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung. “Games between top teams often come down not to who does the most good, but who makes the fewest errors.”

In Saturday’s opener, Vancouver took a 2-0 lead in the first period, on a pair of goals from Justin Wilson, but Hawks’ Justin De Vos scored just 1:55 into the second period to cut into the lead.

Vancouver scored twice more in the middle frame, while Valley West’s Ben Evanish, a White Rock resident, replied for the home side.

Ilijah Colina rounded out the scoring for the Hawks with a third-period goal.

“I thought we gave up too many chances against a good team and weren’t able to battle our way back,” Leung said of the loss. “You never want to play from behind when you play the Giants. They defend better than any team in our league. To spot them two goals to start the game was the wrong way to do it.”

Leung said Sunday’s game at the North Shore Winter Club “was a much better effort” despite the three-goal deficit.

Neither team bulged the twine in the first period, though the Giants took the lead just 17 seconds into the second.

Evanish, with his second goal of the weekend, replied less than four minutes later to tie the game, but Vancouver scored three times in the third to pull away and secure the two points.

Goaltender Reece Klassen was “exceptional” in Sunday’s game, according to Leung, but offence was hard to come by in the Giant’s home rink.

“We didn’t do enough to create offence, and when we did, we didn’t capitalize,” Leung said. “You never like losing games, but the golden lining is we didn’t play anywhere near our best hockey and played both games tight.

“It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get back to work.”

The Hawks are back on the ice Saturday in Langley, when they host the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds, who have a 3-3-4 record through 10 games. On Sunday morning, the two clubs will head to Abbotsford for a rematch at the Abbotsford Recreation Centre.