PORT HARDY—Both North Island bantam sides can take something away from last weekend’s hockey tourney at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena in Port Hardy.
After a three game, round-robin stage on Friday and Saturday between eight teams, Port Hardy faced off against Powell River in the seventh place game on Sunday.
Save for a two minute spell, the locals could have won the game.
Port Hardy was the better team in the first period and took a deserved lead when Riley Nelson converted an assist from Jake Heller with 9:01 on the clock.
The locals then held off the visitors and looked fairly comfortable going into the break.
The tide turned when the puck dropped for the second period, the visitors scoring directly from the face-off, leveling the scores mere seconds into play.
Thirty seconds later they took the lead with a lightning-quick attack to put the locals on the back foot.
Before the period was two minutes old Powell River added a third as a speculative flick forward took an unfortunate deflection to find it’s way past Port Hardy goalie Sarah Case.
Port Hardy did its best to fight back but was hampered somewhat by a series of penalties and was unlucky once again in the closing minutes of the period as a long shot found the back of the net, Case unsighted from the puck by a screen of players.
Sage Hanuse pulled one back for the home side on a breakaway effort in the third, Clayton MacDonald notching an assist, but this ended the scoring.
The local players can keep their heads up after a fine display, the 4-2 score slightly misleading as to how close the game was.
Port McNeill’s side took the ice for the next game, playing the Campbell River Eagles after a draw with Oceanside Steelers in their opening game earned them a slot in the fifth place final.
The home side took the lead after Cameron Grant scored off a Jaidyn Staniforth assist in the first.
The visitors then fired home a trio of long-range efforts that found their way into the McNeill net before adding a fourth on a put-back to take a commanding lead at the end of the first.
The home side came out firing on all cylinders in the second, Staniforth grabbing an early strike off Grant’s assist as the home side took the game to the visitors.
The duo combined again midway through the period as Staniford added a second and brought the McNeill side back within one.
The visitors found their feet again on a power play late in the period and made it 6-3 just before the buzzer.
In the third period the visitors put the game out of reach with two more strikes, finishing the scoring at 8-3.
The third place game saw the Cambell River Sabres beating the Cowichan Valley Flyers 3-0 before the Oceanside Steelers beat the crosstown Storm 4-3 in a shootout to take top honours.