Coach Kris Boyce maps out a strategy for success for the BC Major Midget Kootenay Ice as the team prepares for the undefeated Valley West Hawks at the Cominco Arena this weekend.

Major Midget Kootenay Ice earns split, play undefeated Valley West Hawks this weekend

The MML Kootenay Ice will try to hand the Valley West Hawks their first loss of the season this week

The BC Major Midget Kootenay Ice earned a split with the Vancouver NE Chiefs, as the team travelled to Coquitlam for a two-game tilt last weekend.

Two-of-four points wasn’t what Ice coach Kris Boyce wanted before heading into Coquitlam on the weekend to play the winless Chiefs, but he’ll take it.

“It takes a bit to get guys gelling and get the team going and I think with my expectations to start the season, I’d definitely like to be at 3-1 right now,” said Boyce. “It’s one of those things where the season is so long you can’t really dwell on the games that you played you just need to win the ones you need to moving forward.”

The Ice earned two points in an exciting Game 1 on Saturday, coming back from a 2-1 third-period deficit to tie it and then score in overtime for the victory.

The Chiefs shot out of the gate scoring at 19:48 of the first period when Ryan Denney beat Ice goalie Xavier Cannon. But Kootenay tied it at 11:47 on Dawson Creek product Mason MacLeod’s first tally of the season. The Chiefs reclaimed the lead early in the second and held off the Ice attack until midway through the final frame when Erik Delaire notched his first of the season, scoring unassisted to tie the game at two and send the match to OT.

The Ice didn’t waste any time in the 3-on-3 overtime period, as Delaire and Adam Pipe set up defenceman Jackson Bohan for the OT winner just 12 seconds into the five-minute extra frame.

It was Bohan’s second goal of the season, while Ice goalie Cannon earned his first win with Kootenay.

It was a different story in Game 2 on Sunday when the Chiefs took a 3-0 lead into the third period on the strength of a two-goal game from Zack Dallazana. The Ice fought back when Pipe made it 3-1 at 12:48 on a setup from Delaire and Brett Walchuk and Vanderhoof native Caleb Concalves brought Kootenay to within one with 4:27 to play, finishing a play from Trail’s Marty Ingram and Riley Green.

Kootenay pulled goalie Jake Kemp for an extra attacker but the Chiefs Jack Steffens scored an empty netter with six seconds left to ice it for the Chiefs.

The 2-3-0-1 Ice move into seventh place in the BCMML tied with the 1-4-1-2 Chiefs and 2-5-1-0 North Island Silvertips, but have two games in hand. Just three points separate fifth and 10th spot, with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds on top of the standings at 6-1-1-0, however, the Valley West Hawks are undefeated at 6-0 and play the Ice this weekend.

The Hawks won the 2016 BCMML championship, yet finished a disappointing seventh place last season.

“Comparing it to two years ago, the team is deeper – four lines deep,” Hawks coach Rob Evers told the Surrey Leader.

Evers assumed head-coaching duties of the Hawks in June, following the departure of Jessie Leung who took over assistant coaching duties for the Trail Smoke Eaters, and is determined to vie for another BC major midget title this year.

“We have a good team, and certainly our expectations are to compete for a league championship this year,” added Evers. “There’s a lot of work to put in, but that’s the goal.”

And Evers, who has been with the Hawks organization for three seasons, spent a lot of time recruiting over the past year.

“Last year, once we kind of completed our team, we had seven or eight guys that ended up moving on to junior, and we expected only a couple to move on. You know, we lost all of our 16-year-old forwards. Having a championship team the year before that, 18 of those kids are currently playing Junior A or WHL, and from last year’s roster, even for a team that finished seventh, we were able to move 12 guys on to Junior A or WHL. That’s our goal, and those numbers mean something to us every year.”

The Hawks are averaging almost six goals a game, while allowing less than two. The Langley based team is led by Surrey’s Arshdeep Bains with six goals and 14 points, and Cloverdale’s Nolan Krogfoss. 4-9-13. Hawks forward Justin Sourdif, 15, was the WHL Vancouver Giants first pick (third overall) in the 2017 Bantam Draft.

The Ice face off against the Hawks on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 9:45 a.m. at the Cominco Arena.

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