PORT HARDY—As the Seahawks and Broncos took to the field on Super Bowl Sunday, another one-sided game was wrapping up in the final of the Port Hardy bantam tourney as the Bri Security Lakers swept aside the Comox Valley Pedros 8-1.
The playoffs began with a much more competitive game however, as the hosts took on Port McNeill in the seventh-place final.
A pair of late goals for the home side padded a 6-2 scoreline in a flowing end-to-end game that saw both sides get into late penalty trouble.
Port Hardy jumped out to a 4-0 lead before a pair of strikes from Kristopher Jolliffe sparked hope of a Port McNeill comeback.
Jake Heller got the home side started in the first period, skating in from the right to fire home from the slot. A Clayton McDonald wrist shot from the left circle gave the home side a two-goal lead just before the buzzer.
At the other end, Port McNeill fashioned plenty of chances of their own, and the home side had goalie Nigel Walkus to thank for keeping the visitors blank for so long.
A pair of back-to-back strikes for the home side stretched their lead early in the second. Heller doubled his tally with a shot from the right and, 40 seconds later, a speculative Hunter Ballantyne shot from long range slithered past McNeill netminder James Bramham.
Jolliffe, whose snaking runs at the defence looked dangerous throughout, got Port McNeill on the board soon after, his long-range slap shot flying over the stick of Walkus and into the net.
Five minutes later, Jolliffe struck again, skating right to left into the Hardy zone before firing in another powerful shot.
As the visitors pressed forward with the momentum, the home side got several breakaway chances with Bramham doing well to repeatedly deny the attacks.
Just a minute into the third tensions boiled over and, when the dust settled from an on-ice scuffle, Port Hardy’s Patrick Traverse was sent packing and both sides had a player in the box.
Port Hardy was able to ride out the major thanks to some fine defence, but the two sides were only back to full strength for ten seconds before Port McNeill’s Jolliffe was called for a major.
The home side took advantage of the advantage — and their luck — as Justin Speck saw his shot deflect off the pads of Bramham and trickle in before the keeper could turn and cover the puck. Thirty seconds later, Brandon Tobin fired in from the slot to put the home side out of sight.
In the fifth-place matchup, the Campbell River Rangers cruised to a comfortable 6-0 win over the Oceanside Predators. A shootout was required to separate the Cowichan Valley Little Puckers and the Campbell River Bears in the third-place game. An Evan Olcom strike for the Little Puckers gave them the win after regular time finished scoreless.