The North Island Eagles bantam side can hold their heads up despite a 2-0 loss at home to the strong tier 2 Victoria Racquet club in league play last Sunday. On a different day the score could have been very different.
In fact, just the day before, the two sides fought out a 3-3 tie in an exhibition matchup.
The two sides looked to be heading for a draw again after a scoreless first period Sunday. The visitors got the best of the opening minutes, forcing the Eagles to play in their own zone for the majority of the time, but the home side looked dangerous on the break.
The advantage swung to the Eagles when they discovered their check late in the period, the more physical approach earning them more time on the puck and bringing the majority of play to centre ice.
Victoria began asserting themselves again in the second, playing a more physical game of their own and reestablishing the pressure they enjoyed in the first period.
Ironically enough, their opener came off a break of their own after a spell of Eagles pressure left space behind for the visitors to skate into and Victoria took a 1-0 lead into the ice cleaning break.
The pattern of Victoria pressure and Eagles breakaways had been well established by the third, the Eagles’ Josh Walkus and Jake Grinnell repeatedly driving at the Victoria back line, while defenseman Nathan Sandeman and goalie Nyck Ruel had strong showings at the back.
But for a standout performance from Victoria goalie Niall Murphy — including getting across the goal to snag a one-timer from the Eagles’ Emma Mitchell on the crease — the scoreline could have been very different.
The visitors added their second with 14:57 left in the third, but the two sides continued to fight down to the buzzer — at times literally — but it just wasn’t to be for the home side.
In Saturday’s matchup captain Sean Pineda opened the scoring for the Eagles off a Taylor Spafford assist midway through the first.
Victoria tied it up before the buzzer and added a second directly from the puck drop in the second.
Walkus put Mercedes Trevor in to tie for the Eagles at the close of the second before the visitors nosed ahead again in the third.
Walkus found the net off a Grinnell assist with 7:10 on the clock to square the teams and cap the scoring.