For only the second time ever, the Valley West Hawks have advanced to the semifinal round of the BC Hockey Major Midget League playoffs.
The Hawks, which draw players from the Semiahmoo, Langley, Surrey and Cloverdale minor hockey associations, swept the Cariboo Cougars in a best-of-three quarterfinal series last weekend in Langley. Valley West edged the Cougars 4-3 on Friday at the Langley Sportsplex, then eliminated the Prince George-based team with a 5-2 victory Saturday at the George Preston Rec Centre.
The Hawks have reached the semifinal star of the MML playoffs only once before, losing in straight games to the Cougars 2010-11.
Valley West led 1-0 after 20 minutes of Friday’s game on a goal by White Rock’s Davis Koch, but went into the last 10 minutes of play trailing 3-1.
Koch started the comeback with his second goal of the game with seven minutes left. Ty Westgard of White Rock tied the score with three minutes left on the clock and Matt Bradley of Surrey notched the winner with just 31 seconds remaining.
Bradley and White Rock defenceman Matt Barberis each had a pair of assists.
Valley West never trailed in Saturday’s game. Mitch Newsome of Surrey opening the scoring six minutes into the contest, and a minute after the Cougars pulled even, Westgard put the Hawks back on top. Spencer Gerth of Langley and Surrey’s Jamieson Ree upped the difference to 4-1 after 40 minutes. The teams traded goals in the last minute of play, with Newsome netting the Hawks goal.
Valley West will travel to Kelowna next weekend to face the second-place Okanagan Rockets in a best-of-three semifinal series. Last season, the Hawks lost a quarterfinal series with the Rockets in three games.
The teams split a two-game series in September in Richmond, while the Rockets won two close games in Kelowna in December.