PORT McNEILL—No gloves were dropped Sunday night at Chilton Regional Arena. But plenty of food, toys and cash were dropped off as the North Island Eagles midget hockey team faced off against the Eagles alumni in the third annual Gazette Hamper Fund benefit game.
Organized by Eagles head coach Andrew Laming with a cadre of parent and Eagles bantams volunteers, the contest drew a large audience of all ages.
The game itself contained little suspense — the alumni jumped to a 5-0 lead and went on to a comfortable 14-4 victory. Mitchell Walker, who a year ago was on the losing side as a member of the midgets, notched a hat trick to lead the alumni’s assault.
But the primary emphasis was on fun and entertainment, and both teams delivered in a contest that annually pits fathers against sons, brothers against brothers and coaches against their own players.
At one point, current midget Tyson Cadwallader delivered a playful hit well after the whistle on his dad, Clint. Later, Clint Cadwallader dove to undercut a breakaway attempt by midget Brett Walker — Mitchell’s brother — and Brett scored on the ensuing penalty shot.
Players and spectators were asked to bring an admission donation of a non-perishable food item or new toy for the Hamper Fund, and most did just that as two, eight-foot tables were covered with donated items.
Money for the fund, which distributes Christmas hampers to needy North Island families, was also raised through donations and through a paper airplane toss, similar to the traditional puck toss, held during intermission.
The single, mid-game intermission also provided a showcase for some of tomorrow’s Eagles to shine. Members of the Port McNeill Minor Hockey peanut (initiation) program played a brief halftime scrimmage while midget Drake Baron and alumnus Stevyn Ruel served as goaltenders.
After running out to their early five-goal lead, the alumni appeared to tire late in the first half, as the midgets closed within 5-2 on goals by Darryl Coon and George Walkus.
If that was the case, the “old-timers” were clearly invigorated by the break and came out flying after intermission with five more unanswered goals to close out the second period and a sixth to start the third.
Again, however, the midgets finally found their footing, with Riley Heemels following Brett Walker’s penalty shot with another goal.
Laming and John Murgatroyd each had two goals for the alumni, and Marty Gage, Chris Dutcyvich, Dennis Foster, Chad McKenzie, Ty Brittain, Robbie Brittain and Al Rushton tallied single goals. Dutcyvich had a pair of assists and Clint Cadwallader got on the scoresheet with a helper.
Zach Cameron and Tyren Dustin had assists for the midgets, who return to league play this weekend with a pair of games in Port Hardy against Juan de Fuca.