The crowd roared when Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward Ethan Bono stepped onto the ice Saturday night at the Chilton Regional Arena for the first of two preseason BCHL games against the Powell River Kings.
The action kicked off at 6 p.m. with well over 300 people in attendance watching from the stands.
The Bulldogs came out aggressive early on, controlling the tempo of the game for the majority of the period, but unfortunately they weren’t able to capitalize on a late powerplay to open the scoring.
In the second period, the Kings were on the powerplay early on but weren’t able to find the back of the Bulldogs’ net. As the game continued from there, it started to become more even between the two teams, as the Kings were able to get more offence going while the Bulldogs looked a little flat by the end of the period.
The back and forth action continued throughout the third period, until finally, Cam Vansickle scored for the Bulldogs from the side of the net with 3:43 left on the clock to go up 1-0.
The Kings pulled their goalie with about a minute left in the game, but they weren’t able to convert with the man advantage and that’s how it came to a close.
When asked how he felt the preseason tilt went in his hometown, Bono noted Saturday’s game was “so much fun. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. Walking out of the tunnel and onto the ice for warmups and the crowd cheering was a very special moment for me.”
He added the game itself was a good one as well. “It would’ve been nice if the score was a bit higher, but a win’s a win.”
Game two started at 12 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, and it was a much different story than the previous meeting. The Kings’ Branden Toye jammed the puck in off a rebound at 16:58 to give Powell River a 1-0 lead early on, but that didn’t last for long.
Minutes later, Vansickle broke in and fired a wrist shot top shelf to tie the game up, and then at 12:09 it was Bono who fired a big shot from the circle that found the back of the Kings’ net to make it 2-1 for the Bulldogs.
It was all Alberni Valley from there, as the Bulldogs went on to score six more goals over three periods of play, while the Kings were only able to find the net three more times, bringing the final score of the rematch to an 8-4 blowout.
Sunday was “a great game by our team and we put on a real show to end the weekend,” Bono said. “Scoring the second goal of the game and having the crowd erupt was an unbelievable feeling. No better way to cap off an unforgettable experience.”
When asked if he had a favourite moment from the weekend, Bono said it was a “combination of everything [that] made it amazing. From having the team at my house for breakfast, showing them around town, seeing all my friends and family after the game, and stepping out onto the same ice where I learned to skate… All in all, it’s something I’ll carry with me forever. When I left [during] bantam, I didn’t think I’d ever play a game in Port McNeill again. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”