PORT HARDY—Last week the North Island Atoms raised the banner for the Division 4 championship. Now they have the matching one for the playoff title.
The top-seeded Eagles enjoyed home ice and a berth in the final having beaten Saanich Mar. 1. Saturday saw the Campbell River Tyees overcome Comox 8-6 at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena to earn the other spot in the Atom Development Division 4 playoffs final.
In Sunday’s final, a resurgent final ten minutes for the Eagles saw the home side take control after the lead was traded back and forth through the first half.
Coming back after the ice-cleaning break with the Eagles ahead 3-2, both sides initially struggled to settle, carving out plenty of chances but failing to convert.
The Tyees got there first, breaking away to equalize before adding another to take the lead in the third.
The home side kept their heads up however, and found an extra gear in the last ten minutes as the side’s play came together.
The Tyees were slow to clear the rebound off an Ethan Bono shot and Keenan Saunders got there first to fire back in with Tyler Roper on hand to put back the puck and tie the score at 4-4.
Saunders put the Eagles in front a minute later with a solo, harrying a Tyee defenseman on the blue line and capitalizing on a fluffed clearance to race ahead and score.
Roper added another on a power play to give the Eagles an insurance goal and Cole Klughart added an empty-netter at the buzzer to spark the celebrations.
Campbell River had opened the scoring with a back-door effort past Kayden Jones midway through the first period.
Bono answered with a pair of breakaway efforts either side of the period break to give the Eagles a brief lead.
That lasted all of seven seconds as the Tyees fired in a route one goal from the puck drop to go 2-2.
The Eagles got their noses in front on a power play before the break, Skyler Evans reacting first to pick up a rebound and hand off to Klughart, who spun and shot through traffic to give the Eagles a 3-2 lead to take into the dressing room.
“It was an awesome game from both sides,” said Eagles coach Ray Bono, “they gave us a great game.”
It was a fine finish on home ice for the Atoms, who earlier topped Division 4 with a 9-1 record.
“We’re all proud of them, the coaches, parents, helpers, they deserved it, they’re a good bunch of kids,” said the coach.
“They’re a joy to coach, it’s an awesome group of kids; they all get along, they all listen really well.”
The atoms have one more tournament on the calendar, a March 21-23 tournament in Victoria, which will see the Eagles line up against Division 2 and 3 opposition.