The North Island Eagles atom development team took to the road over the Christmas break and earned a split of a pair of exhibition hockey games in Port Alberni and Comox.
After dropping a 9-4 decision to the Tier 2 Bulldogs in Port Alberni Dec. 27, the Tier 3 Eagles rallied to top Tier 4 Comox 8-2 the following day.
Tyler Roper scored a hat trick and added an assist in the win over the Chiefs. Skyler Evans, Ethan Bono, Matthew Datos and Kai Verbrugge added goals in the victory, and Griffin Handley picked up the win in net.
Daunte McKinney, Ethan Fuller and David Hurley each registered assists.
The previous day, the atoms actually jumped ahead 1-0 on Bono’s score just 20 seconds after the opening face-off, and were tied with the host Bulldogs 2-2 with 5:17 left in the opening period.
But Alberni Valley rattled off four straight goals over the next 17 minutes of play to build a 6-2 lead.
Evan Manke converted a Roper pass to make it 6-3 at 15:33 of the second period, and the Eagles clawed within 6-4 when Roper found the net off a Bono assist in the opening minute of the third. That would be the team’s last hurrah, however, as Alberni closed out the game with three unanswered goals to pull away.
Cole Klughart also scored for the Eagles in the loss, and Bono and Roper each collected two assists.
The Eagles are 1-3 in Division 3 league play, and have yet to play at home since their tiering schedule wrapped up in early November. That will change when they return this weekend to host Nanaimo Saturday at 1:45 p.m. in Port Alice.
That will kick-start a run of home games through the next month, including contests Jan. 17-18 in Port McNeill against league-leading Victoria and Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in Port McNeill against Sooke.
The Eagles midget, bantam and peewee teams will all play on the road in league games this weekend.