PORT McNEILL—An inability to put the puck in the net cost the North Island Eagles atom development team in a Division 3 loss to Victoria Sunday. Or at least an inability to have the puck seen in the net.
Trailing 1-0 in the third period of the tense league game at Chilton Regional Arena, the Eagles twice had what they thought were goals waived off when the puck was eventually located under goalie Aiden Beavan. Shortly after the second non-goal, the visiting Hawks took advantage of a power play to push their advantage to 2-0, and added an empty-net score to cap a 3-0 victory.
“The kids played well, and we’re proud of them,” atoms coach Ray Bono said. “They did everything we asked of them. They just came up on the short end of the stick.”
One day earlier, the Eagles earned a 5-5 draw with Victoria after Matthew Datos scored with 4:39 remaining in an exhibition game at Chilton.
The Hawks (6-1) came to the North Island two points out of first place in the division, while the Eagles (1-5) were locked in a three-way clutch of teams tied for third. But after giving up a quick goal just a minute and two seconds after the opening face-off Sunday, Eagles goalie Griffin Handley and his mates shut the door.
On offence, the atoms kept steady pressure in the Victoria zone but struggled to beat Beavan. They appeared to break through with 15:09 left in the third, when David Hurley hammered a rebound in front of the left post. Some of his teammates began to celebrate, but the whistle blew without a call and, after the pile of bodies at the net was sorted out, Beaven had his glove on the puck just outside the goal line.
Then, on a power play less than four minutes later, Ethan Bono, fighting more traffic at the net, appeared to tip in a rebound of Daunte McKinney’s shot. But again, there was no call until the scrum was separated and the puck was located just outside the end line.
Just after that power play ended, Victoria got its own man-advantage chance and converted, with Alexander Moore tapping home at the far post after Handley turned aside a wraparound try to make it 2-0 with 10:21 left.
The Eagles continued to apply pressure, and Handley was pulled with just under two minutes remaining for an extra attacker. But the Hawks got free on an odd-man breakout, and Alec Plate scored the final goal through the efforts of Kai Verbrugge to block it at the crease.
“They played well,” assistant coach Ryan Handley said. “They deserved a better fate.”
In Saturday’s see-saw exhibition game, Ethan Bono scored two goals and Tyler Roper and McKinney joined Datos in the scoring column. Bono also had three assists, with Roper and Datos collecting individual helpers.
The Eagles led 1-0, trailed 2-1, led 3-2 and 4-3, then trailed 5-4 after Victoria tallied consecutive goals twenty seconds apart midway through the final period.
The atoms travel to Nanaimo for a league game Sunday before returning for Chilton Arena for contests Jan. 31-Feb. 1 against Sooke.