The new GM/head coach tandem of Stefan Burzan and Rob Evers has iced a strong 2017-18 team, undefeated in nine exhibition games following Friday night’s 8-4 win over Everett Junior Silvertips.
The Hawks’ regular season starts Friday (Sept. 22) on the road in Prince George, against Cariboo Cougars.
Last season’s squad finished a disappointing seventh in the 11-team league, a year after the Hawks won their first provincial championship.
“Comparing it to two years ago, the team is deeper – four lines deep,” said Evers, who assumed head-coaching duties of the team in June, following the departure of Jessie Leung.
“We have a good team, and certainly our expectations are to compete for a league championship this year. There’s a lot of work to put in, but that’s the goal.”
The regional team, which plays most of its home games at Langley Events Centre, gives players from the Cloverdale, Surrey, Semiahmoo and North Delta minor hockey associations an opportunity to play and develop at an elite level, mostly close to home.
“We are the (premier) development program for elite, midget-aged hockey players working towards advancement to Junior A or Major Junior Hockey,” says a post at vwhawks.ca.
Hawks beat POE 7-5 outshootig them 50-17. Goals MacDonald (2), Bains, Creasy, Erickson, Krogfoss, Sourdif. Next up Everett Fri 7:30pm LEC.
— Valley West Hawks (@vwhawks) September 10, 2017
With the 20-man roster now set, this year’s Hawks squad includes nine Semiahmoo-zone players, including goalie Josh Dias, D-men Cam Newson, Jordan Hendry, Brayden Wick and Kiernan Bailey, and forwards Cam MacDonald, Tyler Chyzowski, Josh Pederson and Jackson Cooke.
“It turned out that a lot of those Semi guys departed and went their separate ways for bantam or U15 hockey,” Evers noted, “and some of them played together when they were younger and are now on the same team again, so we have a tight-knit group, probably the tightest-knit group I’ve coached in 20 years of coaching.”
Four Surrey products are on the team (forwards Justin Sourdif, Arshdeep Bains and Walker Erickson, defenceman Braydon Clark), along with three Cloverdale players (forwards Kyle Forbes, Max Mohagen and Nolan Krogfoss) and one North Deltan (blueliner Trevor Isaksson). Joining them are Chilliwack-area forward Dustin Penner, Langley forward Caden Creasy and North Van netminder Jayden Shull.
Six on the roster skated full-time in the BCMML last year, including returning Hawks players Krogfoss, Isaksson, Wick and Pederson.
Surrey’s Sourdif, who played at Delta Hockey Academy last season, comes to the Hawks as the WHL Vancouver Giants’ first pick (third overall) in spring’s Bantam Draft.
“We’ve got four lines that can score at any time, but Justin can certainly contribute points, and I expect him to have a good year and be among league leaders in points,” Evers said.
“But the unique thing about him is that every time he gets interviewed, he always talks about being a 200-foot player and wanting to be one. Well, he’s there, and him and Cam McDonald, two of our 15-year-old forwards, we relied heavily upon for penalty killing (recently in Kelowna), and between the two of them they scored three shorthanded goals. Both of them are threats on the ice and they’re both shortlisted for Team BC right now, so we’re looking forward to seeing if those guys can make that team.”
Last Friday’s final preseason game for the Hawks was against Everett at Langley Events Centre.
“Then we’re off on an overnight kayaking/camping trip, just for the guys to get ready for the start of the regular season next week, when we travel to (Prince George),” Evers said Thursday. “We’re there on opening weekend and the following weekend is the showcase.”
Evers, who has been with the Hawks organization for three seasons, spent a lot of time recruiting over the past year, he said.
“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,” he noted. “You know, we lost all of our 16-year-old forwards. Having a championship team the year before that, you know, 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.”