The Valley West Hawks will play for a B.C. championship this weekend.
The Hawks will face-off against the Cariboo Cougars in a best-of-three series that begins tonight, after eliminating the Okanagan Rockets in three games last weekend in Surrey.
Valley West finished atop the BC Hockey Major Midget League in the regular season, and went 2-1-1 (win-lost-tied) against the Cougars.
“We know what we’re up against playing the Cougars. It’s going to be a tremendous series,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung. “The team that plays with more desire and desperation is the team that will leave this weekend with the championship title.”
Valley West defeated Okanagan 6-2 in the first game of their semifinal series last Friday (March 11) in the Surrey Sports and Leisure Centre. The Rockets tied the series with a 2-1 win Saturday evening, but were eliminated by the Hawks 6-4 Sunday afternoon.
Five powerplay goals powered the Hawks to the win in the first game, which saw the Rockets score first and lead 1-0 after one period. Valley West responded with six unanswered goals over the next 30 minutes.
“We built our team to be able to win different types of games,” said Leung. “The Rockets weren’t able to cope with the physical game and started taking undisciplined penalties. And our powerplay was great.”
James Malm with two goals and a pair of assists and Christian Bosa with a pair of goals and one helper paced the Hawks. Ben Evanish with a goal and two assists, and Carson Franklin with one goal completed the scoring.
Valley West fell behind 2-0 late in the second period and were unable to come from behind in the second game.
“We had a chance to finish a team off and advance but I don’t think our players were ready for the desperation of the Rockets,” said Leung. “It was a night where we didn’t get the bounces to change the momentum for us. We hit two cross bars in the first period and had a bunch of grade-A opportunities that we couldn’t convert.”
Bobby Russell scored the lone Hawks goal.
Valley West scored three times in the first six minutes of Sunday’s game, and although the Rockets twice pulled to within a goal, the Hawks maintained their lead the rest of the way.
“Our boys came to play,” said Leung, admitting the “early success let some casualness slip back in. They were a team that never quit and kept chasing us to the end.”
Malm, Bosa, Evanish, Bradley Stonnell, Justyn Gurney and Luka Burzan were the goal scorers.
The B.C. final begins tonight (Friday) at 7 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre, and continues tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. in the South Surrey Arena.
Game three, if necessary, is back in Langley at noon Sunday.