Everything went right for the Valley West Hawks last weekend.
Not only did the BC Hockey Major Midget League team sweep the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds, they gained ground on two rivals in what has now become a four-team race for second place and home ice advantage in the playoffs. The Vancouver Giants managed to collect just one point from two games against the Vancouver Chiefs, a result that left both teams tied for the runner-up position with 43 points. The Okanagan Rockets, held to one point from their two weekend games with the Vancouver Canadians, have fallen to third place with 42 points.
And after their two triumphs, the Hawks have improved to 17-9-6 (won-lost-tied) and their 40 points has them well within range of second place. Four weeks remain in the MML regular season.
Valley West scored 14 goals against the Thunderbirds, winning by scores of 7-4 Saturday in Abbotsford and 7-6 Sunday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre.
“At times, it was a shooting gallery,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung. “We showed why we are one of the top scoring teams in the league this year. Our team executed our game plan plain and simple.”
The Hawks led 2-0 after one period Saturday on goals by James Malm of Langley and South Surrey’s Daniel Watson. Christian Bosa (Langley) and Spencer Berry (White Rock) made it 4-0 before Fraser Valley got on the scoreboard. Jeffrey Stewart of Surrey and Bosa with his second of the game upped the count to 6-1 by the one-minute mark of the third period.
The Thunderbirds got two quick goals late in the game before White Rock defenceman Matt Barberis completed the scoring.
“Saturday was a well executed game for 53 minutes. In that time we outscored the opposition 6-1, chased their starting goalie and killed off four power plays,” said Leung, adding Sunday was a different story.
“We had a mental lapse. We thought it was going to be easy and didn’t play to our game plan.”
The Thunderbirds took a 3-1 lead into the dressing room for the first intermission. Gary Ayre of South Surrey was the lone Hawk to score.
The Hawks exploded in the second period, scoring five times in a 16-minute span. Ben Evanish of White Rock scored twice, with Barberis, Ayre and Bosa adding one each for a 6-5 Valley West lead after 40 minutes.
“We challenged them during the intermission and got quite a result,” said Leung. “Our power play was red-hot in the second period scoring four goals on four tries.”
Fraser Valley tied the score midway through the final period, but the Hawks found a way to win. Evanish tallied his third of the game with four seconds remaining.
“It wasn’t how you’d normally chart out a win, but it was satisfying to see our team gut out the character win,” said Leung.
“We got great performances from a lot of players this weekend. The best came from (Surrey defenceman) Shakeel Ebrahim. Shak played as good as I’ve ever seen him play. Easily our most reliable defenceman, he made poised plays with the puck and made everything look easy.”
The next two weekends won’t be easy, but will present Valley West with a chance to start climbing up the standings. They host the Rockets for games at 12:45 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday at the Langley Events Centre, and a sweep of the Kelowna club will vault the Hawks into third place. Valley West will play twice against the Chiefs the week after.