PORT McNEILL—A couple of ill-timed penalties may well have kept the Port McNeill Midgets from earning a trophy in their annual association hockey tournament Sunday at Chilton Regional Arena.
Playing for a berth in Sunday’s championship final, the Whalers were within 2-1 of the Nanaimo Bruins and carrying the momentum until back-to-back penalties gave the visitors a 5-on-3 opportunity late in the second period.
The Bruins capitalized with a goal just before the first penalty winked off the scoreboard and, after their own penalty left the teams skating four-on-four, added an insurance goal just as the door to the penalty box opened to let Port McNeill’s fifth skater onto the ice.
The Whalers got one goal back in an abbreviated third period when Klyde Pausang punched home a Connor Scott rebound, but time ran out as the Bruins claimed a 4-2 win and the finals berth.
That gave Port McNeill third place in the seven-team tourney, while Nanaimo went on to shock top-seeded Comox Team Four 2-1 for the tournament title.
The host Whalers finished 3-2 in the tourney, with both losses coming at the hands of the championship game participants.
Port Hardy fell just short in its own bid for sixth place in Sunday’s playoff opener as Gold River skated to a 4-3 win over the Hawks.
Port Hardy came out sluggish and spotted Gold River a 3-0 lead in the first period. David Shaw brought the Hawks within 3-2 by scoring on a pair of blueline slap shots late in the first and early in the second before the teams settled down to a defensive battle controlled by goalies Troy Cadwell of Port Hardy and Shaylene Gjesdal of Gold River.
Gold River finally pushed back in front by a pair with a score with 6:28 left to play. That proved to be the crucial goal as Port Hardy’s Brett Walker converted off a Riley Heemels rebound just 17 seconds later to provide the final margin.