PORT ALICE— Whatever Mike Bell, coach of the North Island Eagles Midget Rep team, said to the players in the locker room during the ice-cleaning break at their weekend game in Port Alice should go on a motivational poster.
The team was in the Port Alice Arena to face the Saanich Braves in an exhibition game and trailed 2-0 midway through the second when the break was called.
The Eagles had taken control of the game midway through the first period, pressuring the Saanich defence, but the visitors kept it scoreless. Saanich took the lead in the second on a breakaway with 15 minutes left.
The goal seemed to galvanize the Eagles, who responded with a barrage of shots on the Saanich goal coming close several times before the visitors added a second with a precise shot from the blue line before the referees blew for the Zamboni.
The Eagles came out after the break with a decided air of determination. The rejuvenated side seemed unwilling to lose on any level, fighting for loose pucks and checking with full force.
They were rewarded with 7:30 left on the clock when Eric Kennelly broke free from his man to get one back. Chad Bell leveled the score with a shot from the right two minutes later and Zach Swanson put the home side ahead a minute after that when he reacted first to push home the puck after it ricocheted over the goalie.
The Eagles extended their lead a minute into the third when Ethan Shaw steered Kennelly’s effort in at the back post.
The rest of the period was a hard-fought physical affair, with the Eagles repelling several Saanich efforts before Bell and Shaw struck again in the closing minutes.
Saanich 7, Eagles 2
The tide turned dramatically Sunday, with the visitors rolling to a Tier 3 league victory in the rematch at Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena in Port Hardy.
The Braves scored the first four goals of the game before Robby Heavenor put the midgets on the board off assists from Kennelly and Darryl Coon at 4:49 of the second period. The comeback was blunted when Saanich tallied another goal to close the second and potted two more in the third.
Coon closed out the scoring off a Chad Bell assist in the final minute.