Valley West Giants in action against North West Hawks at Langley Events Centre on Sept. 28. The two teams swapped names and identities before the start of the BC Major Midget League season. (Photo: Garrett James)

Rebranded Valley West Giants look to rebound after slow start

Hockey team’s new GM says league officials decided on name swap with North Van franchise in BCMML

As general manager of the Valley West Giants hockey team, Jamie Fiset has some work to do with the rebranded team as it looks to rebound from a slow start on the ice.

Fiset was named boss of the BC Major Midget League franchise in April, when Kyle Spencer was also announced as the team’s new head coach.

Then, in mid-September, another announcement: the team formerly known as Valley West Hawks was to become Valley West Giants, in a name swap with the North Vancouver-based team in the 11-squad MML.

The move was a league decision – one that took Fiset by surprise, he said.

“We didn’t have a lot of input into the decision, and at a meeting I was informed that this was going to be the change for the coming year,” Fiset explained. “The rationale was that the North West Giants team was moving to North Shore Winter Club, home of the Winter Hawks, so because we play out of LEC (Langley Events Centre) and share the place with the (Vancouver) Giants, it makes sense for us to just swap names, so it’s consistent with the people we’re sharing our building with.”

• RELATED STORY: Giant-Hawk name swap for Major Midget League hockey teams, from Sept. 19.

So far, Fiset said, the reaction has been “quite positive” to the name swap.

“People understand why the change was made,” he said. “You know, you always want to be respectful of tradition, as much as you can, because there were some people who put in a whole lot of time over the years to create not just the Valley West Hawks brand, but also on the other side, the North West Giants brand. And when you change, you always worry that people might forget about it, get confused by it, and there’s always reactions like that.

“It’s interesting,” Fiset added, “because I always thought of this as a Hawks area, with this team here, so it took me by surprise, but you adapt, right.”

Fiset, a teacher at Walnut Grove Secondary in Langley, assumed Valley West GM duties from Stefan Burzan, while Spencer, a former assistant coach of the team, took over from Rob Evers as head coach.

• READ MORE: GM Fiset leaving junior B Flames, from Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.

Fiset had been with the Ridge Meadows Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) as the team’s general manager and assistant coach since 2009. He has also been a part of BC Hockey programming, working on both the male and female Program of Excellence (POE) camps. Fiset has also served as a minor hockey coach with Langley Minor Hockey Association (MHA).

With Valley West, he has a roster of players pulled from the Cloverdale, North Delta, Semiahmoo and Surrey minor hockey associations, as always.

“It’s pretty even, our makeup, among the associations,” Fiset said prior to the start of the season. “We have kids who are former Surrey Minor products, we have kids from Semiahmoo, one North Delta player… we’re pretty balanced that way, overall.

“We have just a handful of holdovers from last year, which will make it interesting because, you know, having players that have been in the league, their learning curve isn’t quite as steep as kids who are brand new to the league,” he added. “That will be a challenge.”

Out of the gate this season, the Giants have one win and a tie in six games played, and sit in ninth place in the 11-team BCMML.

Valley West’s first win of the season came Sunday (Oct. 7) in a 5-4 victory over North Island Silvertips during a showcase game in Abbotsford. Anton Cizmok and Dawson Penner each scored twice for the Giants, Caden Creasy added a single goal and goaltender Mason Beaupit earned his first career BCMML win.

This coming weekend, the Giants host Kamloops’ Thompson Blazers in a pair of games at Langley Events Centre, first on Saturday (Oct. 13) starting at 7 p.m. and then Sunday (Oct. 14) at 4 p.m.

CLICK HERE for schedule and stats.

Last season, Valley West topped the BCMML regular-season standings – with a 31-6-2-1 record (win-loss-tie-overtime loss) – but lost to Vancouver NE Chiefs in the first round of playoffs, in mid-March.

Surrey-raised Hawks forward Justin Sourdif, now with Vancouver Giants of the WHL, was named the MML’s Player of the Year for the 2017-18 season by BC Hockey, the governing body of the province-wide circuit.

New this season for BC Hockey is a Minor Midget League, for elite-level 15-year-olds. The league will align and affiliate with the Major Midget League; 10 teams play in the same geographic regions, save for the Kootenay zone.

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