The Valley West Hawks put some distance between themselves and a pack of five teams chasing home-ice advantage for the BC Hockey Major Midget League playoffs.
The Hawks swept the North Island Silvertips in a two-game series at the Langley Events Centre last weekend, remaining in second place but moving four points clear of the Okanagan Rockets and Cariboo Cougars, two teams which split a head-to-head series in Prince George.
Valley West handled the Silvertips 4-1 Saturday morning and 2-1 Sunday afternoon, improving to 14-5-1 (win-loss-tie) at the midway point of the season. The Hawks remain one point behind the 14-4-2 Vancouver Giants, and are on track to achieving their preseason goal.
“Our goal was to finish in the top three,” said head coach Jessie Leung. “First overall is a stretch goal, and it would be nice. But we’re more worried about the playoffs.”
A top two finish would guarantee the Hawks home-ice advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs, and likely avoid a road trip to Kelowna or Prince George.
After a scoreless first period Saturday, Valley West struck for two unanswered goals in the second period, both scored by Justyn Gurney. North island got one back midway through the third period, but Christian Bosa restored the two goal lead with five minutes to play, then Gurney completed his hat trick in the final minute.
Ilijah Colina and Michael Farren each tallied two assists for the Hawks.
The Silvertips gave the Hawks more of a test Sunday. Oliver Alcock opened the scoring for Valley West 12 minutes into the game on the powerplay. The Silvertips drew even 94 seconds into the second period, then Luka Burzan replied with the winning goal seven minutes before the second intermission.
“There wasn’t much flow to the game,” said Leung. “For whatever reason both teams found themselves in penalty trouble and had a hard time getting players into the game.”
The Hawks will be at home twice next weekend, hosting the last place Kootenay Ice (2-17-1). Games times at the Langley Events Centre are 2 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday.
“We’ll get a good challenge from the ice again,” said Leung. “They never quit and will grind it out to the end.”