PORT ALICE — Brad Zealand scored a natural hat trick to start the second period, snapping an intermission tie and leading the surging Port Hardy Bulls to a 7-4 victory over the host Neucel Islanders Friday in Men’s Commercial Hockey League play.
The win, combined with the Port McNeill Ice Devils’ 5-1 victory over the Warriors Sunday, lifted the Bulls (7-5-1) into a tie with the Warriors for the league’s top spot.
The Islanders had tied the game 3-3 on goals by Michael Chabot and Dave Stewart in the closing minutes of the first period, but Zealand struck just 24 seconds into the final period when he converted a pass from behind the net by Hank Olesen.
Zealand made it 5-3 at 7:53 of the period on a wrist shot from the right circle, and completed the trifecta by netting a backhand from the low slot at 11:11 despite being harassed by a defender.
The Islanders (4-6-1) got as close as 6-4 when Greg Brieba redirected a point shot by Adam Farrell past Bulls goalie Tyler Fuller with 8:15 remaining.
But that would be all the scoring until the Bulls’ Scott Williams roofed a shot over the shoulder of Islanders netminder Adam Hall with 54 seconds to play, completing his own hat trick in the process.
Williams put the Bulls on the board first with a high shot that banged in off the crossbar at 7:53 of the first period. The Islanders answered on Rory Bondue’s rebound goal at 12:09.
Williams and Olesen scored 46 seconds apart to give the Bulls a 3-1 edge, but the Islanders battled back, starting with Chabot’s redirect on a 5-on-3 power play with 2:06 left in the half and Stewart’s one-timer of a give-and-go from Bondue just 16 seconds before intermission.
In Port McNeill, the visiting Warriors (6-5-3) struck for a goal in the opening minute of play, but that was all goalie Bob Wells and the rest of the Devils allowed as the hosts came back for the win.
Shelby Cockell’s early goal held up for nearly 15 minutes before the Devils (5-6-1) got on the board with back-to-back scores from Jordan Campbell and Shane Murdoch late in the first period.
After intermission, Ryan Rushton sandwiched a pair of goals around a score by Kurtis Grant.