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Hawks battle Cougars to a split

Major Midget team wins 3-2, loses 2-1 against first place team
Matt Barberis (right) of the Valley West Hawks had three assists in a 3-2 win Saturday over the Cariboo Cougars in Richmond.

Over the past two weekends, the Valley West Hawks have shown they are capable of keeping pace with the top teams in the BC Hockey Major Midget League (MML).

Last weekend at the MML’s Showcase Weekend in Richmond, the fifth-place Hawks faced off against the league-leading Cariboo Cougars and earned a split. Valley West won 3-2 Saturday afternoon, then lost a 2-1 decision Sunday morning to fall to 15-9-6 (won-lost-tied) with 10 games remaining. The Cougars are at 26-5-1.

“A pair of low scoring, one-goal games was hardly indicative of the end to end, intense play,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung. “It truly spoke to the parity at the top of standings where either team could have won either game with a bounce here or there.”

Valley West earned a loss and a win against the Vancouver Giants the previous weekend, giving the defending provincial champions a tough test in both games.

“I think we proved to ourselves over these last two weeks that we are as good as any team in our league,” added Leung. “We could just as easily be 4-0-0 in our last four rather than 1-2-1.”

The Hawks rallied in the third period for the win Saturday.

Langley’s James Malm put Valley West up 1-0 13 minutes into the second period, but a pair of powerplay goals had the Cougars up 2-1 after 40 minutes.

The Hawks tied the game five minutes into the third period, with Daniel Watson of Semiahmoo netting his second goal of the season on the powerplay.

Malm netted the game-winning goal with 10 minutes to play, deflecting a point shot from White Rock defenceman Matt Barberis past the Cougars netminder. For Barberis, it was his third assist of the game.

All the scoring Sunday came in the second period. The Cougars struck for two goals in a three-minute span midway through the session, then Semiahmoo defender Ian Ross cut into the Cariboo lead with his fourth goal of the season six minutes before the second intermission.

“Bad luck on a few plays and a very tough opponent kept us from another two points,” said Leung. “If we play every game for the rest of the season like we did these two we will win far more than we lose.”

The Hawks will play twice against the 12-14-4 Fraser Valley Thunderbirds next weekend, traveling to Abbotsford on Saturday then playing at home at 11 a.m. at the Langley Events Centre on Sunday morning.

ICE CHIPS: Malm extended his lead atop the MML scoring race. He now has 19 goals and 54 points, four more points than Austin Gray of the Cougars.

Barberis continues to lead all defencemen in scoring with 40 points, and is tied for 10th overall. With nine goals and 31 assists, Barberis is the only defenceman among the top 25 scorers.

Josh Bruce, 16, played his first-ever MML game in Saturday’s win. On Sunday, the Hawks had all their regulars in the lineup for just the second time this season.