Following a 6-1 loss on home ice, and just 10 days away from their first game in Calgary at the Mac’s Tournament, a weekend off is what the Valley West Hawks are looking forward to.
The Hawks split a two-game series with the Vancouver Canadians last weekend, winning 6-4 Saturday in Richmond before a one-sided loss Sunday at the Langley Sportsplex.
“This is actually a good time for a break,” said Valley West head coach Jessie Leung. “With us going to Mac’s, this is a small pocket for our players to get family time.”
At 13-7-4 (won-lost-tied) this season, Valley West will go into the Christmas Break in fifth place in the BC Hockey Major Midget League, as the two points from the two games last weekend ensures the Hawks won’t lose ground when they enjoy a bye next weekend.
Valley West erased a two-goal deficit in the first period Saturday, the pulled away with a three-goal third period for the win.
James Malm of Langley and White Rock defenceman Matt Barberis scored first period goals for Valley West, tying score 2-2 after 20 minutes.
Barberis scored again in the first minute of the second period, and the Canadians replied just before the second intermission to knot the score 3-3.
Barberis completed his hat trick midway through the third period, then after the Canadians tied the score 4-4, Christian Bosa of Langley netted the winning goal with nine minutes to play. Malm then scored into an empty net, with Barberis collecting his second assist and fifth point.
Malm, Justin De Vos of Surrey, and Ben Evanish of White Rock each had a pair of assists.
“I thought we controlled the game from start to finish,” said Leung. “The few chances we gave up were Grade-A and they cashed in to keep it close. And I thought the ref did an exceptional job controlling the game.”
Sunday’s game got out of hand at times, as the Hawks were assessed 107 penalty minuets to just 54 for the Canadians, which led to four powerplay goals for the Vancouver team.
“It was tough to get any sort of rhythm in the game with all the penalties.” said Leung. There were a lot of 10-minute misconducts were assessed, so you had players in the box for over 14 minutes at a time.”
The Hawks coach suggested the players had to shoulder some of the blame for all the time spent in the penalty box.
“I’d like to see our team be tougher psychologically,” he explained. “I think what we saw was a frustrated team taking exception to cheap shots, and getting caught on retaliation.”
Evanish scored the lone goal for the Hawks, the first of the game. Valley West trailed 2-1 after the first period and 5-1 after the second.
After taking next weekend off, the Hawks travel to Calgary for the 25-team Mac’s, which features the top Midget (15-17) teams from across Western Canada as well as elite teams of 15-17 year-olds from Ontario, the United States and Europe.
Valley West has been placed in a five-team group that includes the German U17 national team and “some very good” Alberta squads.
“I’m expecting our team to play desperate hockey as this is a tournament where a single mis step can cost you a playoff spot,” said Leung, noting only eight teams will qualify for the playoffs.
“Through it all, I hope this is a team building experience for us.”