PORT HARDY—The North Island Eagles bantam side continued their winning ways with a 4-2 victory over the Sooke Thunderbirds Sunday at Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena.
It was quite the turnaround from Saturday’s exhibition, which saw the visitors coast to a one-sided, 9-0 demolition of the home team, the Eagles racking up 39 penalty minutes to Sooke’s 14.
Sunday saw a much more disciplined bantam team take the ice.
A strong defensive display from both teams held the game scoreless until the third period, when the Eagles erupted with a four-goal flurry.
The Eagles took advantage of a power play early in the period when Kenton Browne opened the scoring with a shot from the circle off a Josh Walkus assist.
Sooke pressed forward in response but the Eagles soaked up the pressure, Nyck Ruel impressive between the posts for the home side. The added Sooke pressure left the Thunderbirds vulnerable to a counter, and on 13:55 Cameron Grant took advantage in spectacular fashion.
After cutting out a pass, Grant burst out of his zone with nothing but ice between him and the visitor’s goal. Sooke goalie Shawn Parkinson was quick off his line but tripped Grant when the two met in the high slot. Grant’s deft touch to round the goalie was on-target, however, and he slid into the Sooke net half a yard behind the puck.
With a five-on-three advantage, the Eagles made it 3-0 with 10:01 to play when Nathan Sandeman found Tanner Roberts unmarked in the slot and he fired home.
The home side rubbed a little salt in the Thunderbirds’ wounds five minutes later, scoring on a Sooke power play. Browne capitalized on some slack passing from the visitors to steal the puck and break away, checking his run in the slot and firing past Parkinson.
The Thunderbirds got a reply soon after the restart, and added a second two minutes later.
The visitors pulled their goalie for the final minute and a half and went six-on-three after the Eagles gave up a pair of penalties, but couldn’t close the gap any further.
The bantams hit the road for a pair of tough games next weekend, playing Victoria Racquet Club Saturday and taking on Cowichan Valley Sunday before breaking for Christmas.