PORT HARDY-While hockey association representatives from across Vancouver Island gather this weekend to set the tiers and game schedule for the 2011-12 rep season, the North Island Eagles rep peewees will attempt to bounce back from a 7-4 loss to Campbell River when they host the Tyees in an exhibition game Sunday at 1:15 p.m. at Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena.
The Eagles midget and bantam teams have a bye week along with most of the Island’s programs, while the atom development team will enjoy a team bonding day Saturday in Port Hardy that will include swimming, skating and bowling beginning at 10 a.m. at the pool.
The full Vancouver Island Hockey League schedule and tiering will be announced early next week. Look for details here and in the print edition of the Gazette.
Campbell River 7, TriPort 4
For half of last Saturday’s game in Port McNeill, the Eagles and the Tyees seemed locked in a classic tug-of-war that could go either way.
When the momentum shifted to the visiting Tyees, it did so quickly and emphatically.
Campbell River scored four straight goals in a span of less than five minutes in the second period Sunday, which provided the difference in the 7-4 win at Chilton Regional Arena.
A power-play goal by Campbell River’s Brayden Davidson at 10:32 of the second period snapped a 2-2 tie and sent the teams to the mid-game, ice-cleaning intermission.
After that break, the Tyees promptly poured in three more goals in a one minute, 15-second stretch to take a commanding 6-2 lead.
“It was like someone dropped a hand grenade and — boom! What happened there?” Eagles coach Brian Heller said.
The North Island squad righted the ship the rest of the way, outscoring the visitors 2-1 the rest of the way. But the damage was done.
“The way I explained it to the kids in the dressing room was I drew a hill on the board,” Heller said. “I told them, if we’re losing 17-1 or 9-0, we’re at the bottom of the hill looking up.
“But we’re right here,” he added, indicating a point a short distance below the crest of his hill.
A shorthanded steal behind the net and quick wraparound shot by Kenton Browne tied the game 1-1 in the first period, and Clayton McDonald’s wrist shot early in the second tied it 2-2 before things went sour for the Eagles.
The team, made up heavily of first-year rep players and missing one of its few veterans, Jake Heller, to a broken arm, has relied heavily on second-year goalie Nyck Ruel in the early going.
Ruel was touched for a couple of soft goals Sunday, but Campbell River scored twice on the power play, twice more on breakaways and once on an odd-man rush that ended with a shot that he initially deflected before it bounced home.
“I told Nyck this wasn’t on him,” Brian Heller said. “He’s stood on his head for us for the last few games. Everybody’s going to have one like this.”
Heller added the squad still needs work on defensive positioning in its own end and in the neutral zone, but that the blueliners did a much better job clearing pucks Sunday.
Sean Pineda’s unassisted goal late in the second period made it 6-3 and, after Campbell River scored on a breakaway midway through the third, Browne capped the scoring with his second goal on a slap shot from the high slot with 57 seconds left. Browne also added an assist.