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

UPDATE: Proposal to replace Surrey Knight & Day with 25-storey highrise gets early nod

Surrey council gave the application first and second reading Monday, and a public hearing is set for Oct. 1

Syrian family can, finally, feel safe

Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity White Rock meets sponsored family for the first time

Former Surrey MP Gurmant Grewal supports Bernier’s new party

Gurmant Grewal has thrown his lot in with Maxime Bernier’s new People’s Party of Canada

Road closures as Surrey firefighters battle propane blaze

Surrey RCMP control traffic as firefighers fight fire at Pacific Propane Container Recycling

Cloverdale, Langley Thanksgiving food drive collects ‘record-breaking’ amount of food

Annual food drive collected 35,000 lbs of food for Langley Food Bank

‘Fire tornado’ erupts as firefighters battle interior B.C. wildfire

Firefighters near Vanderhoof were taken by surprise

1st private moon flight passenger to invite creative guests

The Big Falcon Rocket is scheduled to make the trip in 2023, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced at an event Monday at its headquarters near Los Angeles.

‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Mrs. Maisel’ triumph at Emmys

In a ceremony that started out congratulating TV academy voters for the most historically diverse field of nominees yet, the early awards all went solely to whites.

Korean leaders meet in Pyongyang for potentially tough talks

South Korean President Moon Jae-in began his third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday.

Russia blames Israel for plane shot down by Syrian missile

A Russian reconnaissance aircraft was brought down over the Mediterranean Sea as it was returning to its home base inside Syria, killing all 15 people on board.

Vancouver park board passes motion to learn Indigenous place names

The name of Vancouver’s Stanley Park is now up for debate as the city’s park board confronts its colonial past and pursues reconciliation.

Champ golfer from Spain killed in Iowa; suspect charged

Police said Celia Barquin Arozamena was found dead Monday morning at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, about 30 miles north of Des Moines.

Abdelrazik torture lawsuit delay would be unconscionable: lawyer

The federal government is making a last-minute plea to delay the Federal Court hearing

Trudeau upset after meeting with Saskatchewan chiefs

Trudeau is upset about how time was managed in a recent meeting

Most Read