The best teams in the BC Hockey Major Midget League (MML) don’t intimidate the Valley West Hawks.
But it’s the weaker teams they should be concerned about.
“We have this annoying tendency to play up to the level of the good teams in this league, and play down to the level of the weaker teams,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung, explaining why his team struggled while taking three of four points from the Thompson Blazers last weekend.
Against an opponent with just one victory in 24 games prior to their clash with Valley West, the Hawks won a sloppy 6-4 game Saturday night in Chase then played to a 3-3 tie Sunday in Kamloops.
“Thompson was a desperate team and played hard,” said Leung. “But this should be a wake-up call for us. We didn’t play like we’re supposed to play.”
Valley West got into a shootout with the Blazers Saturday night, exchanging the lead twice in the opening period. Thompson needed just 77 seconds to take a 1-0 lead, but goals from Trevor Ayre and Erik Bocale – both from the Semiahmoo Minor Hockey Association – just 48 seconds apart had the Hawks in a 2-1 lead.
Two goals in the last eight minutes of the opening session had the home team in front 3-2 at the first intermission.
Valley West netted the first two goals of the second period for a 4-3 lead, with Wyatt Hicks of Langley and Jeffrey Stewart of Semiahmoo scoring.
Thompson came back to tie the score again at 4-4 after 40 minutes.
Ayre netted his second of the game with 14 minutes to play to give the Hawks the lead for good. James Malm of Langley added a goal in the last minute of play.
Valley West had to come from behind on Sunday to get the tie. Ben Evanish of White Rock tallied 28 seconds into the game, but by the time the contest was 25 minutes old, the Blazers held a 3-1 lead.
Christian Bosa of Langley cut the difference to 3-2 with a second-period goal, then Ayre tied it up with five minutes to play. Langley defenceman Cole MacEwan had a pair of assists.
The Hawks are now 14-7-5 (won-lost-tied) and are in fifth place in the 13-team league, two points back of the Vancouver Chiefs with two games in hand.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t get four points against the Blazers, but we’re still in good shape,” said Leung. “If we get three of four points every weekend, we’ll be all right.”
Valley West will play twice against the defending league champion Vancouver Giants next weekend, facing off Saturday at 7:45 p.m. in the Burnaby Winter Club and again Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Langley Events Centre.
The Giants are third in the MML with an 18-7-1 record, four points better than the Hawks.
“We have an opportunity against the Giants,” said Leung. “We have a chance to catch them in the standings. It’s an eight-point weekend.”