Midgets cruise to home sweep

North Island Eagles midget team finish tiering schedule strongly.

PORT McNEILL—The North Island Eagles midget hockey team has a range of weapons to call on when it needs an offensive boost. Two of them were enough last weekend in an impressive home sweep that closed out the Vancouver Island Hockey League tiering schedule.

Chad Bell erupted for five goals and added two assists in an 8-3 win over the Nanaimo Clippers at Chilton Regional Arena.

One day later, it was Ethan Shaw’s turn for a five-goal game as the Eagles broke a scoreless tie against Campbell River with 10 unanswered goals in the final 23 minutes of play.

“We were in their end the whole time, but we just weren’t playing with intensity,” midget coach Mike Bell said of his team’s scoreless period and a half Sunday. “We put a certain emphasis on that at halftime. I asked somebody to step up.”

Shaw apparently got the message. The Eagles were held off the board for another six minutes by Tyees goalie, but Shaw scored two goals a minute-and-a-half apart and Malcolm Brown added another in the closing moments of the second period for a 3-0 lead.

Shaw had his hat trick less than a minute into the third period as the floodgates were opened.

Bell and Eric Kennelly each scored a goal and added three assists and George Walkus and Brandon Purdy also scored in the victory, which gave the Eagles a 4-1 record in tiering games, 5-1 overall.

The league now breaks to slot teams in divisions, theoretically based on competitive compatibility. Mike Bell said there will be four midget divisions, and hopes the Eagles can slot into Division 2 for regular-season play before returning to Tier 3 for the playoffs.

“It’s interesting looking at all the results from the different clubs,” said Bell. “We’re sitting right in the middle of Division 2 and Division 3. We’re basically two-and-a-half.”

The Eagles did what they could last weekend to impress the scheduling committee, though they may ultimately be hurt by an 11-2 loss to Saanich’s B team on the opening weekend of tiering games.

After Riley Browne opened scoring in the first minute Saturday against Nanaimo, Chad Bell put together a natural hat trick with the next three goals of the period, including the first of the team’s short-handed tallies.

“We have to clean up our 5-on-5 play,” Mike Bell said. “We play better when we’re down, and that’s just wrong.”

The Eagles’ Darryl Coon Jr. and Nanaimo’s Brandon Roberge traded goals early in the second period, but Chad Bell scored twice more to give the midgets an overwhelming 7-1 lead at the mid-game ice cleaning.

Purdey, one of two bantams playing up as affiliate players from Port McNeill Minor Hockey, scored just after the teams returned to the ice to make it 8-1.

Roberge scored a pair of meaningless third-period goals for Nanaimo to close out the scoring.

Stevyn Ruel picked up the win in goal for the Eagles, who got three assists from Shaw, two from Coon and one each from Ty Brittain and Thomas Coon.

In Sunday’s win over Campbell River, Riley Browne, Robby Heavenor, Darryl Coon, Purdy, Thomas Coon, Coltton Slater and Shaw each had single assists. Alex Howard earned the shutout with a quiet day in goal.