Valley West Hawks goalie Josh Dias – who set a franchise record for wins this season – will look to backstop his squad to playoff success when the post-season begins Friday night. (Garrett James photo)

First-place Hawks prepare for major-midget playoff battle

Valley West to face Vancouver NE Chiefs in first round of BCMML post-season

For the Valley West Hawks, finishing first in the BC Major Midget League regular-season standings wasn’t quite ‘Mission Accomplished’ but it could go a long way toward helping the hockey team reach its end goal – a league championship.

On Saturday on Vancouver Island, the Hawks defeated the North Island Silvertips 5-2 to clinch top spot in the 11-team league, meaning they’ll have home-ice advantage not just in the first round of playoffs, which begin this week, but throughout the entirety of the post-season.

Valley West finished the regular season with a record of 31-6-2-1 (win-loss-tie-overtime loss), which was two points better than the Cariboo Cougars, who finished in second.

The Hawks lost their second game of the weekend, to the Silvertips by an identical 5-2 score, but with top spot locked up, the team chose to rest the majority of their top players. Some – like key forward Nolan Krogfoss – sparingly, in order to help them reach certain individual milestones. Krogfoss managed to reach 100 career points, while leading scorer Justin Sourdif – a top draft pick of the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants – captured the BCMML scoring title, with 71 points in 35 games.

“The result of Sunday’s game wasn’t a big deal to us,” said Hawks head coach Rob Evers.

“It gave us the opportunity to rest guys, and everyone left really happy and really focused.”

As the playoff’s top seed, Valley West will have last line-change in two of three games each series, and should they advance far enough to where they face off against an out-of-town squad like the Prince George-based Cougars or Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets, the entire series will be played in Surrey, thus saving the Hawks from a long bus trip or two.

“We had some internal team goals this year, like finishing first in the regular season so we’d get home-ice (throughout) the playoffs,” said Evers.

“In the finals – if we make it to the finals – we didn’t want to be travelling. We want to play our games in our own rink.”

In their own rink is exactly where their quest for a second BCMML title in three years will start.

Beginning Friday night at South Surrey Arena, the No. 1-ranked Hawks will square off against the eighth-seeded Vancouver NE Chiefs. Game 2 of the best-of-three series is set for Saturday, 2 p.m. at South Surrey Arena, and Game 3 – if necessary – will go Sunday at the Langley Events Centre.

During the regular season, Valley West had good luck against the Chiefs – who finished 31 points behind the Hawks in the standings. The Hawks won a pair of lopsided games early in the season, added another victory in February, but did lose once, 6-3, on Feb. 25 at Burnaby Eight Rinks.

Though the Hawks were without a handful of regulars due to injury in that loss, Evers said it serves as a good example of how prepared his team must be come Friday night’s opening game.

“(Chiefs head coach) Jamie Jackson has done a really good job with that team – maybe they finished a little lower (in the standings) than they thought they would, but they’re a team that’s got better all year,” Evers said.

“For us, we feel like we can play against anybody, and as long as we’re disciplined and work hard, we should get the result we want, but if our league has proved anything this year, it’s that anyone can beat anyone, so we’re going to be ready to go.”

With the exception of defenceman Kabir Gill – who Evers said is out for the season with an injury – the Hawks are expected to ice an otherwise healthy lineup against the Chiefs, which should come as a welcome change for Evers, who has had to juggle his lineup on-the-fly since mid-December, when a pair of key players, Arshdeep Bains and Hunor Torzsok, left for the junior ranks, and then injuries hit.

“Cam MacDonald was injured twice, Davis Frank injured his hip and missed some time, Nolan Krogfoss took a knee against Fraser Valley and missed a handful of games, and Max Mohagen played injured a fair bit,” Evers explained.

“So we’ve had our fair share of injuries in the second half, but… we’re happy that everyone is going to be back for playoffs and ready to go.”

The coach hopes the adversity his team faced as it kept its focus on first place will pay off in the playoffs.

“For me, it was really good to see who was out, somebody else stepped up and we continued to win games,” he said.

“Now, all 20 guys are focused on winning a championship so they have something to show for their year and how hard they all worked.”

Just Posted

‘Dream come true’ for flower-retrieving trio of figure skaters

Cloverdale, North Delta girls chosen for special task during Grand Prix event at UBC

Surrey man’s death prompts call for change

Hospital beds for patients with both medical and mental-health issues are ‘very limited’: coroner

Surrey needs more Mounties now, city councillor says

Linda Annis says public safety cannot be put on hold while city forms its own police force

Volunteers sought for White Rock Christmas Bird Count

Annual inventory of feathered friends set for Dec. 29

‘It’s just taking your dreams away’: Cloverdale farmer worries ALR changes will kill house plans

Kevin Buttar’s house has been in progress for five years; new rules may have him starting all over

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

Canada not slowing emissions from oil and gas: environmental groups

New report released at the United Nations climate talks in Poland

Liberal Party moves Trudeau fundraiser from military base

The fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 19, with tickets costing up to $400

Pipeline protesters arrested at B.C. university

Three protesters were arrested after TRU property allegedly vandalized with red paint

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Vancouver Whitecaps lose Kei Kamara, protect 11 players from expansion draft

The club added two goalies, a winger and a midfielder during Major League Soccer’s half-day trade window

Most Read