PORT McNEILL — So, how will the North Island Eagles and Nanaimo Clippers rep bantam hockey teams follow a game that included a line brawl, five ejections and 91 minutes in penalties?
Well, they’ll play again this weekend.
Thomas Symons scored a pair of power-play goals, including the game-winner, and Riley Mathieson was stellar in net after allowing an early score as the Eagles stormed back for a 4-1 win over Nanaimo in North Vancouver Island placement-round action at Chilton Regional Arena.
That capped a wild weekend that included a 4-3, come-from-behind win Saturday over Kerry Park that was secured when Matt Cahill scored his second goal of the game as Kerry Park skated with a two-man advantage.
Sunday’s game with Nanaimo was marred, however, by a fight that involved extra players jumping in and one who left the bench. It will leave both teams a bit shorthanded when they return to Chilton Arena this weekend for a pair of exhibition games at 2 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday. The contests were set up before Sunday’s fireworks, with both clubs facing a free weekend from league play.
Ironically, the Eagles roster is made up primarily of first-year bantams and/or players in their first season of contact rep hockey after playing on their house teams last season.
“Some of them are jumping right in there, taking hits, giving hits and stepping in front of shots,” Wilson said. “There’s still a little gunshyness with some of them, but that should go away after a hit or two.”
Mathieson and defenseman Darryl Coon are the only returners from last season’s Vancouver Island Tier 3 championship and provincial-qualifying team, though forward Matthew Cahill saw quite a bit of action with the bantams as a late-season callup from the peewee program.
Two more players — Symons of Port McNeill and Riley Heemels of Port Hardy — are returning to rep hockey after playing in the program in previous seasons but returning to their house teams last year.
“They’re getting there,” Wilson said. “We’re still trying to set our lines and see which guys work together best. And we’re working on them, no matter what the scores are or what’s happening out there, on showing sportsmanship.”
This weekend should provide a test of those lessons as the teams resume their series this weekend.
Cahill and Logan McLachlan added goals for the Eagles in Sunday’s win. Brandon Purdey had a pair of assists and Coon added a helper in the victory.
On Saturday, Symons and Purdey each had a goal, and Coon, Cahill and Kale White chipped in assists. Shae Simpson and Mathieson shared goaltending duty, with Mathieson snaring the win thanks to the late shorthanded goal.