PORT HARDY—The host side may not have made the finals of the Port Hardy Atom tournament last weekend, but it sure went out fighting.
Facing the Comox Chiefs in the playoff semifinal, the local side battled back from a three-goal deficit to tie before cruelly losing out in sudden-death penalty shots.
Tye Morash bagged a hat trick for the Eagles, including the tying score in the final minute of the game.
With the Hardy bench still celebrating the comeback, the Chiefs thought they had won as a scooped shot found the net. It was pointed out to the referees that the ice time had run out and the buzzer should have sounded the end of the game before the shot.
After a quick conference the referees disallowed the goal and signalled for penalty shots.
With both sides even after five shots apiece it went to sudden death and the Comox side emerged triumphant after three nail-biting rounds.
Morash had opened the scoring early in the first period before the Chiefs ran out to a 4-1 lead.
The Eagles fought back to 4-3 through a Brandon Brotchie strike and Morash’s second before the visitors restored a buffer with a quick steal and conversion.
A spectacular looping scoop from Kale Hunt on the boards slipped past the Comox net minder to keep the game in sight.
The Eagles went 6-4 down early in the third before Tyler Wadhams’ power-play strike and Morash’s hat trick tied the score and sparked home celebrations.
The fourth/fifth place game saw a local matchup as the Port Alice Cougars went 13-12 against the Port McNeill Snipers in a nip-and-tuck affair that had its own dramatic finale.
The Cougars’ Lucca Stewart scored a hat trick but his haul was overshadowed by teammate Dawson Twamley who netted an astonishing ten times.
The Snipers led for the majority of the game, Port Alice getting its nose ahead for a 40-second stretch early in the third before the Port McNeill side ran out to a 12-10 lead with four minutes to play.
But Port Alice had the last word, Stewart pulling one back and Twamley breaking forward to lift past the netminder with a minute to play.
With just 9.3 seconds left on the clock Twamley did it again, breaking free to slot home and secure the comeback.
Mark Isaac and Solomon Melan each scored four for the Snipers, with William Grant scoring twice, and Brett Daffurn and Sabastian Joliffe adding one apiece.
Campbell River were the eventual winners of the tournament, comfortably beating Comox 11-3 in the final.