PORT McNEILL—A slow start left the North Island Eagles trailing visiting Juan de Fuca by two goals late in the second period of their atom development hockey game at Chilton Regional Arena Saturday.
That turned out to leave plenty of time to turn the tables.
Ethan Bono scored four goals, including the tying score, as the Eagles pulled away for a 10-6 victory that evened their record in placement games at 2-2.
“I have a feeling that’s going to be a constant theme this season,” head coach Ray Bono said of the high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. One week earlier, the atoms played a similar game against Nanaimo B2 that ended in an 8-7 loss.
This time, however, when the Eagles grabbed the lead they never gave it up.
Juan de Fuca jumped to a 4-1 lead in the opening period, and still led 5-3 with just 4:21 left in the second. That’s when Ethan Bono started the rally by one-timing Tyler Roper’s crossing pass into the net for a power-play goal. Less than a minute and a half later, Bono reached his stick out to redirect a point shot by Cole Klughart past the Grizzlies’ goalie and tie the game at 5, even as the Juan de Fuca bench called fruitlessly for a high-stick call.
Then with just 17.4 second left in the period, the Eagles took their first lead of the day when Tristan Mardell’s rush and vigorous work behind the net set up David Hurley for the go-ahead tally.
“The kids came out flat,” assistant coach Steve Verbrugge said. “But they battled back. They played really well once they got going.”
That success extended to goalie Griffin Handley, who allowed just a single goal, on a Grizzlies breakaway, over the final 30 minutes of play.
“Griffin kept us in it,” Ray Bono said. “He gave us a chance to win the game.”
After Juan de Fuca drew within 7-6 on the breakaway goal, Ethan Bono, Roper and Ethan Fuller scored consecutive goals over the final 6:09 to put it away.
Klughart and Roper finished with two goals each in the win. Bono and Klughart had three assists each, Roper had two, and individual assists were collected by Skyler Evans, David Klatt, Matthew Datos, Mardell, Evan Manke, Daunte McKinney and Kai Verbrugge.
The atoms wrap up their five-game placement round with a 1:15 p.m. game against Comox Saturday in Port Alice.