A weekend trip to Trail only produced two points for the Valley West Hawks last weekend, but head coach Jessie Leung still saw enough positive signs to suggest his team is pulling itself out of its midseason doldrums.
The Hawks – defending BC Major Midget League championships – lost 4-3 Saturday to the Kootenay Ice, with the home team’s winning goal coming with just 28 seconds left in the game.
The visiting squad rebounded Sunday morning, however, winning 4-1.
Saturday’s final-minute loss was the third game in a row in which the Hawks’ opponents scored the winning goal with just seconds left. The first two came a week prior against the Okanagan Rockets.
“It wasn’t what we were looking for,” said Valley West head coach Jessie Leung.
“Saturday was really endemic of what we have been going through lately… it’s just mental errors. It’s happened three times now, and when that happens, you start playing with fear – playing not to lose instead of trying to win the game instead.
“But there’s more parity in our league than ever before, and (Kootenay) is a disciplined team that works hard, and they don’t give up much at even strength.”
Hawks defenceman Kabir Gill – fresh off making his BC Hockey League debut Nov. 10 for the West Kelowna Warriors – scored two goals in the loss, while Calder Newson added another and Bobby Russell had two assists.
Valley West, which started the season near the top of the MML standings after a early victories, have split – or in one case, lost both games – of weekend doubleheaders, and now sit sixth in the 10-team major-midget circuit with a record of 8-5-1-2 (win-loss-tie-overtime loss).
Despite winning just once the last two weekends, Leung was pleased with his team’s performance Sunday, and told Peace Arch News it felt as though his club was getting back into the groove it was in during the season’s opening weekends in October.
“Sunday was definitely better for us. We did a phenomenal job defending, and we started putting a lot more pucks on net, and getting some rebounds,” he said.
“The first quarter of our season was really good, the second quarter was horrific, but now I think we’re back trending in the right direction.”
In Sunday’s win, all four Hawks’ goals came in the second period, with Tyler Ho, Russell, Aidan Barfoot and Newson finding the back of the net.
The Hawks are back at home this weekend – on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre, they’ll host the North Island Silvertips, and the two teams will square off again Sunday afternoon at South Surrey Arena.