A linesman gets between James Malm (left) of the Valley West Hawks and Vancouver Giant Josh Latta during a BC Hockey Major Midget League hockey game Sunday at the Langley Events Centre.

Special teams helps lift Hawks past Giants

Major Midget team scores eight times in two games with the man advantage

Playing their best hockey of the season, the Valley West Hawks are putting some distance between themselves and their rivals. The BC Hockey Major Midget League team swept the Vancouver Giants last weekend, widening the gap between the first-place Hawks and the third-place Giants to nine points.

Valley West doubled the Giants 6-3 Saturday evening at the North Shore Winter Club, then easily won the rematch 6-1 Sunday morning at the Langley Events Centre.

The Hawks are now 22-5-1 (win-loss-tie) on the season with 12 games remaining. They are tied for first on points with the Cariboo Cougars, but have played two fewer games.

Valley West dominated the special teams battle with Vancouver, scoring four powerplay goals in each game, while killing off 12 shorthanded situations over the two contests.

“We made a few adjustments on our powerplay last week and practice and it looks like it really paid off,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung. “Most teams will be happy with one power play unit converting above 50 per cent. Right now, we’re fortunate with both of our units clicking.”

Valley West jumped to a 3-1 lead after one period Saturday in North Vancouver, and led 5-3 after two.

James Malm scored the first two goals for the Hawks, and Oliver Alcock added another before the first period was over.

The Giants scored twice midway through the second period to briefly tie the game, but Kabir Gill and Ilijah Colina restored the Hawks’ two-goal lead with goals in the final two minutes.

Christian Bosa scored the lone goal of the third period.

“This was the best our team has played all season,” said Leung. “From the drop of the puck we were relentless on the attack all game.”

The Giants took their only lead of the weekend early in Sunday’s game, scoring just three minutes into the game. But it was all Hawks after that.

Bosa and Justyn Gurney tallied before the first intermission to put Valley West in the lead. Luka Burzan and Gurney scored powerplay goals in the second period, then Colten Gerlib and Ben Evanish completed the scoring in the third period with another pair of powerplay goals. Michael Farren assisted on four of the six goals.

“The Giants are typically the model of composure and discipline but they came unglued in the second game,” said Leung. “I saw their coach losing his mind on the bench and I saw his team take a lot of undisciplined penalties.”

Nic Tallarico was in net for both games, and upped his win total to 12, second best in the 11-team league.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in both of our goalies right now but Tally, as our returning guy, had some history with the Giants. We wanted to give him a good crack at it.”

The Hawks will face-off against Cariboo twice next weekend at the second MML Showcase Weekend of the season in Richmond. The two teams face-off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, and 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

“This weekend could very well decide first place,” said Leung.

“The Cougars will be a tough test. We know they’ll come prepared.”

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