Ryan Patterson of the North Island Eagles atom development team slips a pass through a defender's stick in Saturday's win over Campbell River.

Third time a charm

Eagles atoms in three-game sweep of Campbell River Tyees B team.

PORT HARDY—Well, the North Island Eagles atom development hockey team has proven it can handle Campbell River’s B team.

Now it’s on to a tougher challenge.

Mathew Saunders scored a hat trick and Payton Laming, Luke Gage and Rhys Dutcyvich added two goals each as the atoms rolled to a 9-3 win over Campbell River Saturday in Port Hardy. That capped a three-game sweep of the Tyees over a span of eight days, during which the Eagles outscored them 32-9.

Campbell River did come out of the gate strong and scored first, challenging the Eagles before the hosts responded and took control. It was a lesson that may come in handy this weekend when the atoms travel to Port Alberni for a Thanksgiving weekend tournament.

“It was good to see them get a little pressured,” atoms coach Marty Gage said. “They’re the only team we’ve faced to date and we’re heading for Alberni Friday where we’ll be facing some tougher teams.”

Gage said the small team, made up of six second-year players and six newcomers, continues to display a strong forecheck and backcheck. But he would like to see them put in more work on their passing as they get into the challenging portion of their schedule.

“A lot of these kids are used to being the better players on the ice and having the ability to go through the other team at will,” he said. “Moving up into competitive hockey, the young players need to learn that playing as a team produces much more positive results.”

Kayden Jones, the first-year goalie, picked up the win in net Saturday.