PORT McNEILL—It took the Port Hardy bantam hockey team a long time to crack the scoreboard in Sunday’s tournament playoff final against Port McNeill. Once they did, there was no stopping them.
Josh Borg and Brandon Tobin scored two goals apiece in the final 18 minutes as Port Hardy blanked the offensively challenged Whalers 4-0 in the sixth-place game of the annual Port McNeill Minor Hockey bantam tournament at Chilton Regional Arena.
Campbell River topped Gold River 4-2 to cap an unbeaten run and claim the tournament title. Comox placed third after falling 6-5 to Gold River in Sunday’s championship play-in game. Oceanside nailed down fourth place with a 4-1 win over Port Alberni.
Port Hardy skated to a 5-5 tie with Oceanside in the tournament opener Friday night, but dropped its last two games in pool play to land in the sixth-seventh-place game against their North Island rivals and tourney hosts.
Port McNeill, which due to the uneven number of entrants played four round-robin games, was blanked in its first two contests, then fell 5-3 to Port Alberni and 5-1 to Campbell River. Kris Joliffe of Alert Bay, who scored all four goals in the tournament for the inexperienced bantam squad, was unavailable for Sunday morning’s final, and the Whalers couldn’t find a scoring threat to crack the net against Hawks goalie Nigel Walkus and his defence.
For a time, it seemed neither team was going to break through.
Port McNeill goalie James Bramham weathered a steady diet of shots through the first period and most of the second before Borg finally hit paydirt with a breakaway goal with three minutes left in the second period.
Tobin provided the real back-breaker when he scored on a shorthanded slap shot from the slot with just 1.4 seconds left in the period.
Borg added a second goal early in the third period, collecting a pass to the slot by Kathleen Gough and wristing it home to make it 3-0.
Tobin capped the scoring with 46 seconds left on a tough-luck goal for the host Whalers. Bramham got in front of the puck and made a body stop, but the rebound bounced upward and rolled off his shoulder and into the net for the final tally.
Minor hockey tournament play continues this weekend when Port Hardy Minor Hockey hosts its annual atom tournament at Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena Saturday and Sunday.