Valley West defenceman Bobby Russell (right) returned from the WHL last week.

Undefeated Hawks ‘finding ways to win’

Valley West faces tough road matchup this weekend in Prince George

The Valley West Hawks are still undefeated two weeks into the Major Midget Hockey League season after a pair of victories at last weekend’s league showcase in Richmond.

On Saturday, the Hawks celebrated the return of defenceman Bobby Russell – who’d been with the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice – by defeating the Thompson Blazers 3-0, and followed up Sunday afternoon with a 5-2 win over the same squad.

Valley West sports a perfect 4-0 win-loss record, which puts them in an early-season tie for first place with the Cariboo Cougars, who are also yet to lose a game.

In Saturday’s shutout victory – with second-year keeper Reece Klassen between the pipes – Valley West dominated the play for much of the contest, outshooting the Blazers 48-14.

“Our puck possession and defensive-zone coverage were good. We only gave up one scoring chance and that came on the penalty kill,” said Valley West head coach Jessie Leung.

Offensively, the Hawks were led by captain Kabir Gill of White Rock, who opened the scoring in the second period, and Justyn Gurney, who finished with one goal and two assists. Surrey’s Tyler Ho also had a two-point game, with a pair of helpers.

In Sunday’s rematch, Gurney again had a multi-point effort, assisting on the first of Ho’s two goals while adding a tally of his own in the third period, on a penalty shot.

Ho – whose second goal came while shorthanded – also had an assist while Gill and Jonas Leas added the team’s other goals in a game that Leung said was “defensively looser” than Saturday’s affair.

Keaton Dyck got the win in net Saturday.

Despite the sparkling win-loss record, Leung said the team is “still rounding into form” and adjusting on the fly as key players like Russell trickle back into the fold from junior camps.

“We have yet to play anywhere close to our standard and we’re still finding ways to win,” he said.

The Hawks will face a stiff test on the ice this weekend as they head to Prince George to face the Cougars in a battle of undefeated teams. It’s the first time the two squads have played each other since last year’s MML championship, won by Valley West.

“It’s a good test early for our team. The Cougars have been a premier organization in our league for the last decade and look to be a top team again this year,” Leung said.

“We have a week of hard work ahead of us before we make the trip.”

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