The Valley West Hawks split a two-game series with the Cariboo Cougars to remain in first place in the BC Hockey Major Midget League.

Hawks get a split with Cougars

Major Midget team retains first-place standing in provincial league

For 12 hours last weekend, the Valley West Hawks had dropped to second place in the BC Hockey Major Midget League (MML).

But by Sunday afternoon, they were back atop the standings, making up for a poor performance Saturday with a 3-1 victory over the Cariboo Cougars.

The Cougars, 9-4 winners Saturday over the Hawks in the first of two games played in Richmond as part of the MML’s Showcase Weekend, are tied for first with Valley West on points. But the 23-6-1 (win-loss-tied) Hawks have played two fewer games than Cariboo (22-7-3) and have now won the head-to-head season series.

Cariboo got off to a fast start to the weekend, scoring three times in the first eight minutes of play and taking a 4-1 lead after one period of play. They were up 6-2 after 40 minutes.

“We knew they would come in prepared and with a chip on their shoulder,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung. “Knowing and being prepared for it ourselves turned out to be two very different things. We’ve been on a good run playing really good hockey and we forgot how hard it is to come by success in our league.

“We got outcompeted all game and weren’t ready at the start.”

James Malm was in on all four Hawks goals, scoring twice and assisting on the other two from Michael Farren and Christian Bosa.

The Hawks scored three times with the man advantage, but allowed one shorthanded goal.

“I really dislike losing, but it came as a wake up call for our team,” said Leung. “It was some adversity for our club to overcome as we move down the tail end of the regular season. We saw the results on Sunday.”

Malm was again the offensive leader Sunday, as the Hawks shut out Cariboo for much of the game. Ben Evanish gave Valley West a 1-0 lead after one period, with Malm drawing an assist.

Malm tallied once each in the second and third periods, giving Valley West a 3-0 lead before the Cougars scored their lone goal with just two minutes remaining.

“The best players in the game rise their level when the games matter most and through two weekends against the best in our league, Malm has done just that,” said Leung.”

With 10 games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Hawks will play twice against the fifth-place Fraser Valley Thunderbirds (14-10-6) next weekend. The first game is Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Langley Events Centre, with the rematch set for Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Abbotsford Recreation Centre.Hawks

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