PORT HARDY—It took all but 47 seconds of an overtime period to separate the finalists of the Mens division at the Wild Women’s hockey tourney at Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena last weekend.
Mainline — a newly formed outfit comprised largely of Port Hardy Bulls and former North Island Eagles — left it to the dying seconds of overtime to snatch victory away from the Warriors in a dramatic end-to-end battle.
Mainline had opened the scoring in the final minute of the first period, a Curtis Martyn pass finding Robbie Heavenor in space just inside the blue line. Heavenor looked up and rifled a shot into the net.
The Warriors leveled the score midway through the second with a carbon copy.
Jeff Cowles found Shelby Cockell moving into the high slot and his wrist shot tied the teams.
Mainline got back in front four minutes later when a beautifully weighted pass from Heavenor lured the Warriors defence forward and gave Chad McKenzie half a yard down the right side. McKenzie still had plenty to do, but his surging run at the Warriors’ goal was inexorable, and he cut through the defence to round Warriors goalie Jason Saunders and slot home on the backhand.
The advantage was short-lived, however, as 15 seconds later the Warriors struck again. Eddie Walkus was the provider this time; his long shot from the right circle was turned away by Mainline goalie Ryan Handley, but Corey Swain was lurking at the crease and turned in the deflection.
The two sides fought it out for the remainder if regular time but, despite plenty of chances at either end, goalkeeping heroics from Handley and Saunders kept the score level.
The breakthrough came for Mainline with 47 seconds left, a Martyn pass on the breakaway finding McKenzie on the blueline. McKenzie kept his composure, driving at the goal and squeezing between goalie and defender to backhand into the net.
In the Women’s division the Courtenay Whalers beat out the Nanaimo Islanders to claim the top spot.
The North Island’s Juiceheads had a heartbreaker, finishing third after losing out to the Islanders in a shootout for a finals berth.
With nothing between the sides after four periods, it took four penalty shots apiece before the Islanders’ Sarah Grover finally found a way past Juiceheads goalie Sarah Case to slot home the winner.
It was a bitter pill for the local outfit who had fought hard all game and deserved a shot in the finals.
The Nanaimo squad had taken the lead midway through the first period, but the Juiceheads tied it up with a minute left in the period.
A shot from Steph Laming from the right circle was turned away by the Islanders keeper, but only as far as Cory Pearson, on hand at the crease to finish the job.
In the fourth/fifth placed game, Port McNeill’s Downpour beat out the host Wild in a tight 2-1 victory.
The Downpour’s Ashlynne Moore was the hero, scoring on a tantalizing solo effort to separate the two sides.
Moore collected the puck in her own zone and her weaving run carved apart the Hardy defence. Breaking through the Wild back line, Moore found herself joined by a teammate in a two-on-one.
Having done the hard work, Moore took it herself, skating in from the left to drive past Wild goalie Emily Murray.
The Wild had opened the scoring in the first with a solo effort from Megan Cairncross. The Downpour tied it up late in the second, Sonya Strang converting a Nadia Skokun assist.