North Island Eagles bantam Alexander Stavrakov gets the upper hand in a sideline dance with Oceanside's Austin Hykaway during their game in Port McNeill Saturday.

Bantams struggle in loss

PORT McNEILL-Oceanside pulls away for 5-2 win over North Island Eagles in rep hockey play

PORT McNEILL—First the North Island Eagles bantams lost an ugly hockey game. Then they lost their chance at redemption.

After a solid start that had them tied 1-1 in the first 10 minutes of play, the bantams looked alternately sluggish and listless as the visiting Oceanside Generals skated off to a 5-2 Vancouver Island Hockey League victory Saturday at Chilton Regional Arena.

“We were really good, the first two minutes,” bantam coach Dan Wilson said. “The other 53 minutes we (weren’t).”

The Eagles’ chance for a bounce-back effort Sunday against Comox was wiped out by the landslides that closed Highway 19 and prevented the Chiefs from making the trip north for the scheduled exhibition game.

To be charitable, the bantams had more than two minutes of solid play in them Saturday. The visitors opened the scoring six minutes into the game on a redirected shot from the circle, and it took just 30 seconds for the hosts to even the score when Thomas Symons converted a one-timer from the slot on Matthew Cahill’s crossing pass.

The Generals gradually assumed control from that point, however, pressuring Eagles goalie Riley Mathieson throughout. They went up 3-1 with back-to-back goals in the opening half of the second period, and even the mid-game intermission didn’t turn the bantams’ fortunes around.

The Eagles thought they drew within 3-2 when Cahill’s breakaway shot at the second-period buzzer went into the net, but it was waved off and ruled to have come after the buzzer.

The back-breaker came when Oceanside successfully killed a four-minute penalty, then immediately pushed ahead 4-1 when Trent Bell simply walked through the defence and potted an unassisted shot past Mathieson at short range at 3:04 of the third period.

“All-around, the effort was just not there,” said Wilson. “We just didn’t have it as a team.”

Cahill drew the Eagles to 4-2 with an individual-effort rush started by a long lead pass from Alexander Stavrakov, but that was the team’s last hurrah.

Oceanside capped the scoring on a power-play tally with 9:54 remaining.