The Valley West Hawks are just a win away from their first-ever regular season championship.
The BC Hockey Major Midget League team took both ends of a two-game set with the Vancouver Chiefs, while the second-place Cariboo Cougars split with the Vancouver Giants.
The Cougars are two points back of the 29-6-1 (win-loss-tie) Hawks, but have just two games remaining. Valley West has four games left on its schedule.
“It was a stretch goal for us at the beginning of the season to finish first,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung. “We know that it doesn’t count for a lot come playoffs but it’s still a great accomplishment for our squad.”
Valley West edged the Chiefs 6-5 in Coquitlam Saturday evening, giving up the game’s first goal but rallying for a 3-1 lead after one period. Christian Bosa scored twice, with Justin De Vos adding a shorthanded goal. Ilijah Colina and Josh Bruce extended the lead to 5-1 early in the second period, and when Bosa completed his hat trick midway through the game, Valley West was up 6-2.
Vancouver got one goal back late in the second, and tallied twice in the third period, but weren’t able to score a tying goal.
James Malm assisted on three of the six Valley West goals.
“We took the game for granted at 6-2 and lost our focus,” said Leung. “It was a good lesson for us to learn while still pulling out the two points.”
After a poor finish Saturday, the Hawks started slow Monday night, in the Langley Events Centre and were tied with the Chiefs 2-2 midway through game.
But Valley West dominated the final 30 minutes, and led 5-2 after two periods and went on to a 9-3 victory.
“We learned our lesson from Saturday. Even at 6-2 we knew we couldn’t let up,” said Leung. “You never like running the score up on a team like that, but we respect the Chiefs enough to know that we couldn’t leave the door open for them.”
Justyn Gurney led the Hawks with a pair of goals. Bruce, Bradley Stonnell, Oliver Alcock, Daniel Chifan, Michael Farren, Ian Ross and Ben Evanish added one each. Malm, Colina, Stonnell, Bobby Russell and Kabir Gill each assisted on a pair of goals.
“We showed spurts of next-level hockey. For parts of both games we dominated puck possession and really controlled the pace of the game,” noted Leung. “There were some great signs for our playoff bound team, but a definite lack of consistency.”
Valley West will play its final two home games this weekend against the fifth-place South Island Royals, seeking two points to clinch top spot. The two teams face-off Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at the Sungod Arena in North Delta and again Sunday morning at 9 a.m. in the Langley Events Centre.