PORT McNEILL—With only one midget hockey team on the North Island this season, the players are going to need all the help they can get to find game action this season.
They got their first taste Sunday courtesy of the North Island Eagles rep bantams in an unofficial scrimmage at Chilton Regional Arena.
With insufficient turnout to establish a midget team in the Port Hardy Minor Hockey Association this season, the Port McNeill program — which already includes players from Alert Bay and Port Alice — has opened its doors to Port Hardy players wishing to skate this season.
“We’ll have the (Port Hardy) guys with us when we have our tournament here,” Port McNeill midget coach Ed Symons. “And we’ll be able to take some of them with us when we play in tournaments down-Island.”
But the regular-season matchups normally played between the rival programs are off the table, which gave Sunday’s non-checking contest added importance to the midgets from each community.
With the rep bantams drawing a bye on the opening day of the Vancouver Island Hockey League Division 3 season, the same two clubs will meet in a rematch this Saturday at 11 a.m. at Chilton Arena.
With no midget goalie available Sunday, Eagles netminders Nyck Ruel and Nigel Walkus both played the whole scrimmage, switching sides at halftime. PMMHA president Scott Mitchell and North Island Eagles head coach Andrew Laming served as referees as the midgets edged the bantams 8-7 in the back-and-forth contest.