After giving the first-place team all they could handle for 120 minutes, the Valley West Hawks left Kelowna with little to show for it.
The Hawks, the third-place team in the BC Hockey Major Midget League, were on the road for two games on the weekend hoping to creep closer to top spot. But when the weekend was over, Valley West had dropped two close games to the Okanagan Rockets, falling 5-4 Saturday night and 6-4 Sunday morning at the Capital News Centre.
One short lapse Saturday might have cost the Hawks their best chance to earn some points on the trip. Valley West rallied from 4-1 down late in the second period to pull even with the Rockets by the midway point of the third.
After Okanagan scored three times in four minutes to break a 1-1 tie and take a three-goal lead with three minutes to go in the second period, Matt Bradley of Surrey cut the difference to two goals before the second intermission, then completed his hat trick nine minutes into the third period.
A minute later, Surrey’s Trevor Ayre netted a tying goal for the Hawks.
The Rockets then frustrated the visitors by scoring the winning goal with 48 seconds to play.
In Sunday’s game, the Hawks again battled the league’s first-place team for 60 minutes, only to finish with nothing to show for it despite another huge offensive effort from Bradley.
The two teams traded goals 10 seconds apart midway through the first period, with Eric Callegari of Langley scoring the Valley West goal with an assist to Bradley.
Bradley found the net six minutes into the second period, but his goal was sandwiched by two by the Rockets giving the home team a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.
By the midway point of the third period, the Hawks had surged into a 4-3 lead. Bradley tied the game 29 seconds into the final frame with his second goal of the game, then assisted on Cloverdal native Jordan Funk’s go-ahead goal five minutes later.
Okanagan pulled even with 11 minutes to play, went up 5-4 on a shorthanded goal with seven minutes to go, then added a powerplay marker with five seconds left on the clock.
The Hawks are now eight points off the pace with a 15-8-1 (won-lost-tied) record, but still lead the fourth-place Vancouver Chiefs by five points.
Valley West will host the 8-13-3 South Island Royals for two games next weekend, facing off at 7 p.m. Saturday and 11:15 a.m. at the Langley Events Centre.