Bantam Eagles capture banner

The North Island Bantam Eagles captured the Island League Tier 3 Banner

The North Island Bantam Eagles came back to the Tri-Port with a 1-0 best-of-three series lead against the

Saanich Braves, ready to play two games at  home if needed and win the Island League Tier 3 banner that

they’d been battling the entire season for. And that’s exactly what they did. The first game started at 2 p.m. on

Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena in Port Hardy, and the building was absolutely

packed with fans who were downright excited to watch some fast paced playoff hockey. The Eagles and the

Braves came out their dressing rooms ready for battle right from the drop of the puck. Hits were being thrown

all over the ice as both teams wanted to set the tone of the game early on. The Braves managed to get on the

scoreboard first with a goal at 9:15 of the 1st period, but the Eagles’ Clayton Bono answered back right away

with a goal at 8:29 to tie it up 1-1. In the 2nd period, the Eagles kicked their game into high gear and started to

pull away, using excellent passing and just plain out skating the Braves. Rhys Dutcyvich scored off a one timer

at 15:11, deked around the defence and knocked the puck past the Braves goalie at 14:53, and then completed

the hat trick with a hard wrist shot goal at 9:35. Devin White added another goal at 6:12 to put the Eagles firmly

in the lead 5-1. The Braves added their second goal of the game with 1:04 left to end the 2nd period. The 3rd

period was filled with tons of penalties. The Eagles got a little heated and ended up racking up 17 penalty

minutes, and the undisciplined play definitely cost them in the end. The Braves scored at 8:44, 7:31, and again

with 3:21 left on the clock to tie the game up 5-5, sending it into overtime. The 10 minute overtime period was

filled with back-and-forth action, with both teams getting some good chances, but neither team could find the

back of the net. The Eagles took a bad four minute penalty with 3:04 left and that was when the Braves

capitalized with the man advantage, scoring with 2:36 left on the clock to wrench the game away from the

Eagles 6-5. “I felt we played pretty well rounded,” said Coach Greg Fox. “We struggled from time to time and

that let Saanich back in. Saanich just never stopped coming, they were a very good team.” The Eagles, now

tied 1-1 with the Braves, would play the final game of the best-of-three series the next day on Sunday, Feb. 28,

again at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena in Port Hardy. Before the game started, Marty Gage, the Eagles

assistant coach, talked to the team about “attitude, and the effects a positive attitude will have on the outcome,”

said Fox. “We also discussed playing for the team, keeping your personal emotions in check, and also chatted

about just focusing on the little things, like short passes, and to be in place to support puck control.” The talk

must have worked, because the Eagles came out of the dressing room focused and determined to bring home

the banner in front of their hometown crowd. The 1st period kicked off with the Eagles controlling the puck well

and laying out some excellent hits. The Eagles captain Evan Fox scored off an excellent point shot through

traffic at 8:29, and The Braves responded with a goal at 4:22 to tie the game up 1-1. The Eagles’ Dutcyvich

then scored a clutch power play goal where he literally slid into the net with the puck with just 33 seconds left in

the period. In the 2nd period, the Eagles came out firing. Dutcyvich scored his second goal of the game

at 18:43, then Bono scored at 14:42 to make it 4-1 for the Eagles. The Braves scored another goal at 4:30, but

that was the last time they would put the puck in the net. Dutcyvich scored his third goal with 21 seconds left in

the 2nd period, and then scored his fourth goal at 11:45 of the 3rd period to seal the win 6-2 and bring home

the Island League Tier 3 banner. The hometown crowd erupted and cheered the Eagles as they hugged in front

of their net and celebrated the hard-fought, well earned playoff finals victory.”Thank you to all the supporters

who came out this weekend, it was deeply appreciated by our team,” said Fox after the game, adding that the

team will now be going to compete in the Provincials in Smithers. When asked how he thinks the team will do,

Fox replied that he believes they “have a solid chance as long as we continue to work on the little things, stay

positive and control the controllables.”

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