PORT HARDY — One of the benefits of early season placement games for North Island Eagles rep hockey coaches is the chance to learn something about the teams they have assembled.
Interim Eagles midget coaches learned last weekend that their squad can play as well with a full bench as they can shorthanded.
Ethan Shaw had a goal and an assist Saturday as the midgets outdueled Alberni Valley 3-1, and every line got into the scoring act Sunday as the Eagles blasted visiting Comox Valley 8-2 to cap a weekend sweep and improve to 4-0 in Vancouver Island Hockey League placement action.
“Last weekend we only had nine players,” Clint Cadwallader said of the midgets’ season-opening road trip. “At least we had some strength on the bench this weekend.”
About the only team member missing was head coach Rob Brittain. Instead, Eagles head coach Mike Bell and Cadwallader manned the bench for the two wins.
“It’s going to take awhile for everything to gel with this group,” Bell said. “We have a lot of first-year kids, and they’re trying see where they’re going to fit in with the guys coming back. That’s where these tiering games are helpful.”
Goalie Stevyn Ruel played a key role Saturday, keeping Alberni at bay while his mates struggled to find the net. The Eagles got one goal in each period, with Shaw starting things in the first and Chad Bell pushing the lead to 2-0 before the Bulldogs cut it to 2-1 early in the third period.
Taylor Logan provided an insurance tally at 4:05 of the third, and Ruel made it stand up.
The Eagles jumped out quickly Sunday, getting first-period goals from Tyson Cadwallader, Malcolm Brown, Shaw and Riley Browne to take a 4-0 lead. But some sloppy play later in the period allowed the Chiefs to slip a pair of quick goals past netminder Troy Cadwell.
After a stern chat from the coaches to start the second period, the team righted the ship. Shaw and Eric Kennelly added goals before the mid-game ice cleaning to restore the four-goal edge, and Robert Cahill and Kennelly found the net after intermission to provide the final margin.
Kennelly, Bell and Robby Heavenor each contributed two assists. Single helpers were added by Cahil, Malcolm Browne, Logan, Malcolm Richards and Mitchell Walker.
The midgets are off for Thanksgiving weekend, then wrap up tiering play Oct. 15 against Saanich in Port McNeill.