PORT ALICE—Dave Stewart, Jack Kennelly and Mark Preston scored consecutive goals in the second half as the Neucel Islanders celebrated the debut of Doug Bondue Arena by rallying for a 4-3 win over the Port McNeill Mustangs Dec. 20.
Bruce Murray also scored and Adam “Chief” Hall had a strong showing in goal as the Islanders prevailed in the final game of the Men’s Commercial Hockey League’s first half.
The evening began with a brief re-naming ceremony for the municipal ice arena in honour of Bondue, a longtime coach, player and volunteer whose fund-raising efforts in 2006-07 were instrumental in keeping the arena open when it was threatened with closure.
The ceremony was attended by Mayor Jan Allen and councillors Mark Brackett, Janice MacLeod and Dave Stewart, who unveiled a new Doug Bondue Arena sign above the scorer-keeper’s booth.
Following the puck drop, the Mustangs controlled play for much of the first half, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Al Rushton and Dennis Foster. But Hall and the Islanders’ defence repelled continued attacks, and Murray drew the hosts to 2-1 on a solid individual-effort goal with just 27.5 seconds remaining in the period.
The Islanders quickly jumped in front in the second period, with Stewart bouncing a point shot off the shoulder pad of Mustangs goalie Bob Wells and into the net at :26 and Kennelly netting a shot from his knees after being knocked down on a rush through the slot at 4:29.
Preston’s one-timer from the slot on Russell Murray’s feed from behind the net at 10:57 pushed the Islanders’ lead to 4-2, and it held up despite Foster notching a second goal for the Mustangs at 16:36.
In other action on the final weekend of play for 2013, the Port Hardy Warriors outpointed the crosstown Bulls, 7-5.
In B League play, the Whalers edged the Smokers 4-2, then downed the West Coast Rookies 6-1.