PORT McNEILL—The North Island Eagles peewee team fell one goal short of advancing in Vancouver Island’s Tier 3 playoffs. But, as usual, the peewees did not fail to provide excitement in a tight, 7-6 loss to the Campbell River Tyees Saturday at Chilton Regional Arena.
“Well, if you wanted to see a hockey game that day, we sure didn’t disappoint,” Eagles head coach Marty Gage said. “Both teams played their hearts out and it was another episode of the Campbell River-North Island rivalry that’s been going on for the last three years.”
The win clinched the second seed from the Tier 3 North Division into the Vancouver Island semifinals. Alberni Valley, which skated to a 5-5 tie with the Eagles one week earlier, took the top spot.
Rhys Dutcyvich, Carson Strang and Payton Laming scored consecutive, third-period goals as the Eagles rallied from a 6-2 deficit to close within 6-5 in the third period. After Campbell River tallied on a hard slap shot to restore a two-goal advantage, Dutcyvich completed a hat trick and brought the peewees back within a score with 7:01 left to play.
The Eagles’ best chance came over the final minute and a half of play, when the Tyees were whistled for a penalty and the hosts pulled Michael McLaughlin to skate 6-on-4. But despite several scoring chances and a couple of pucks that skipped through the crease, the Eagles were unable to punch in the tying score.
McLaughlin came on to play the third period in relief of starter Michael Perez.
“That was for no other reason than a change in momentum, and it worked,” said Gage. “Perez held our team in the game in the first and second periods.”
Mathew Saunders scored the Eagles’ opening goal to tie the game 1-1 in the opening period, and added three assists on Dutcyvich’s line. Laming, Clayton Bono and Liem Wadhams also added assists as the peewees fell just short.
“These teams have met in the playoffs, finals of tournaments and all the games seem to end in a one-goal difference or a shootout,” Gage said of the rivalry with Campbell River. “They continue to find a way to beat us.”
The peewees will now look to set up some exhibition games and possibly a mini-tournament to wrap up the 2013-14 season, Gage said.