The North Island Eagles have officially finished their 2017-2018 minor hockey seasons (except for Atom development, who play until the end of February), and what a ride it’s been. This was my third season covering minor hockey on the North Island, and attending games is easily the best part of my job. So how did the teams do this year?
The North Island Atom Eagles won their first game of the season last week, and they are currently sitting in fourth place in their Tier 3 standings with a solid 1-3-4 record;
The North Island Peewee Eagles had a tremendous showing this year, posting an 8-2-0 record. The Peewees narrowly missed capturing the Tier 3 league banner by just one point to the very tough Sooke Thunderbirds;
The North Island Bantam Eagles came out of the gate firing with an undefeated 5-0 preseason record which qualified them to play in the Tier 2 division. The Bantams had a tough go of things after that, posting a 1-7-2 record;
The North Island Midget Eagles, who also qualified for the Tier 2 division this year, finished off with a respectable 4-7-1 record, defeating some tough teams along the way.
With playoffs on the horizon, I figure I might as well list my own personal favourite moments from the season, because, well, this is Tyson’s Thoughts. Here we go:
Favourite game of the season: Bantam Eagles vs. Nanaimo Clippers, Dec. 17 in Port McNeill. The Bantams hadn’t won a game yet all season, and they had a date with the second place Clippers in front of a big hometown crowd. I told coach Ryan Handley they were going to get their first win of the season that day. The team dug down deep and pulled off a 6-4 victory, with captain Tynan Klein-Beekman scoring two crucial slapshot goals from the point. Seeing goaltender Griffin Handley put his hands in the air and celebrate as the last ten seconds on the clock ran down was the ultimate “feel good” moment.
Best goal of the season: Midget Eagles Clayton Bono had a huge breakaway goal with time running down in the third against the Campbell River Tyees on Jan. 14 in Port Hardy. Bono skated in at full speed and absolutely buried the puck top shelf on the Tyees goaltender, and it was awesome to watch in real time. Talented young man.
Favourite tournament of the season: Wild Halloween Midget tournament. I know the Tri-Port Wild aren’t a rep team, but they do travel and practice as much as the Eagles, so they still count. The tournament was filled with nonstop excitement from the opening game Friday night, all the way to the Wild winning in the final against Sooke on Sunday afternoon. Thanks for the shirt, Lisa Brown!
Most improved player of the year: Atom Eagles goaltender Matt Mercer has really grown into the position this year, backstopping the team to their first league play win against the Powell River Kings on Jan. 21.
MVP of the year: Midget Eagles captain Tanner Roberts. Roberts has had another excellent season, putting up a ton of points and being a leader on the ice. Watch for him to play Junior B after graduating.
MVP honourable mention: Tri-Port Wild sniper Bree-Anna Henderson. Henderson has already scored 20 goals this year (including three tournaments), and still has five games left in the season. She could potentially hit 30 goals before playoffs even start. Henderson has the talent to keep playing after high school, let’s see what she does with it.
Team of the year: Peewee Eagles/Tri-Port Wild. Statistically, these two teams put up the best numbers this year. Have to go with them based on that alone.
Coach of the year: Glenn Moore. This was Moore’s first season as a head coach with the Eagles, and the Peewees came within one point of winning the league banner. Amazing stuff from a man who’s been coaching 22 years.