Fraser Valley Thunderbird Justin Plett lands on top of Brayden Wick of the Valley West Hawks during a BC Hockey Major Midget League game earlier this season. The Hawks trail Fraser Valley by three points in the league standings. BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER

Fraser Valley Thunderbird Justin Plett lands on top of Brayden Wick of the Valley West Hawks during a BC Hockey Major Midget League game earlier this season. The Hawks trail Fraser Valley by three points in the league standings. BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER

Shorthanded Hawks blanked twice by Giants

Injuries leave Major Midget team without a pair of top-six forwards

The injury bug has hit the Valley West Hawks hard, leaving the BC Hockey Major Midget League team to play shorthanded for the rest of the season.

The Hawks have recently had two forwards sidelined for the final five weeks of the regular season, and with a Hockey Canada roster deadline in place, they are unable to add players before the playoffs begin.

“We will just have to rotate our APs (affiliate players) the best we can,” said Hawks head coach Jessie Leung. “It’s a chance for other players to step up and assume a bigger role on the team, because we’ll likely be short a full roster for the rest of the year.”

Valley West has lost forwards Carson Franklin and Jonas Leas for their lineup. Franklin, from Cloverdale, had netted five goals and 11 points in 30 games for the Hawks this season, while Leas was fifth on the team in goals scored with 10 in 28 games played. Both are 17 year-olds, in their final season in the midget age group.

The two losses come after another top-six forward – 16-year-old Justyn Gurney – was called up to the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League early last month.

Playing without two of their top six forwards, Valley West struggled to score in last weekend’s series with the Vancouver Giants.

With just 10 skaters available as opposed to the usual 18, Valley West impressed their coach with their effort, but couldn’t find the net and lost to the Giants by 2-0 and 3-0 scores.

“We did a good job generating some scoring chances, but we couldn’t finish,” said Leung. “And the Giants are a good defensive team, give them credit. They were clearing a lot of rebounds and blocking the lanes to the net.”

The two losses, which were Sunday afternoon and Tuesday night in the Langley Events Centre, have dropped the Hawks to 17-11-1-2 (win-loss-tie-overtime loss) on the season, knocking them from fourth place into a tie for fifth. Valley West is deadlocked with the Greater Vancouver Canadians, three points behind the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds.

The Giants are in seventh place, five points back of Valley West with two games in hand.

Eight teams will qualify for the provincial playoffs, and the Hawks are assured of at least a top-eight finish. But a top-four finish would give Valley West home-ice advantage in a best-of-three quarterfinal series.

The Hawks will travel to Kelowna this weekend for two games with the Okanagan Rockets. Okanagan sits third in the 11-team league with a 21-6-0-3 record.

BLUE LINES: Amy Potomak dressed for the Hawks in both games against the Giants. The 17-year-old from Aldergrove has now played four games for Valley West this season.

Potomak is a member of Canada’s U18 women’s team, and is committed to play at the university of Minnesota next season.

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