After nearly having to give up on the season before it even started, the Hawks stuck it out and made history with their first Mill Bay Rec Hockey League championship in 20 years in the circuit.
The Hawks just about had to fold due to a lack of players, which would have cut the league down to just three teams. But they managed to form a squad, then finished first on the circuit in the regular season, and finally upended the Chiefs to win it all.
It may have been the Hawks’ first win, but it wasn’t their first kick at the final series.
“They’d been there a couple of years ago,” MBRHL commissioner Al Johnson said. “They took the Titans to the fifth game and lost.”
For finishing first in the regular season, the Hawks got to face the fourth-place Bandits in the semifinals, while the second-place Chiefs played the Bruins. The Hawks swept the Bandits three games to none and the Chiefs eliminated the Bruins in four games, setting up a championship battle that would go the distance.
The Chiefs won the opener 4-1, but the Hawks bounced back with 7-2 and 6-3 victories.
The Hawks appeared to have a stranglehold on the series, but the Chiefs would have something to say about that in the game four barnburner.
The teams were tied 1-1 halfway through, and the Hawks went up 2-1 with about five minutes left. The Chiefs managed to even the score once again, sending the game to overtime, where they staved off elimination with the winning goal at 2:31.
Game five was eerily familiar. Tied 1-1 at the halfway point once again, the Hawks went ahead 2-1 and 3-2, but the stubborn Chiefs kept coming back. With just over two minutes to go, the Hawks finally scored a goal that the Chiefs couldn’t answer for and held on to win 4-3 The Chiefs had the final series’ two leading scorers in Brendin Schievink (seven goals and two assists) and Jimmy Gordon (1G, 7A). The Hawks’ scoring was more spread out: the top line included Blair Wallace (6G, 2A), Tanner Wiersma (3G, 4A), and Matt Wylie (1G, 2A), and was boosted by all-purpose skater A.J. Dzhevelekyan (4G, 3A).
“In my mind, A.J. was the most dominant player on that team,” Johnson said.
After the season came to an end, a team of MBRHL all-stars played an exhibition against the junior B Kerry Park Islanders, winning 14-6. The league will be expanding outside of Mill Bay next season with the addition of the Horses, a successful tournament team based at Fuller Lake Arena, and more teams from other parts of the Cowichan Valley are also welcome.
Anyone interested in joining should contact Al at 250-999-5463 or 250-743-9902.