The North Island Midget Eagles played their hearts out, battled through injuries, and ultimately won gold at a Remembrance Day Tournament in Port Alberni .
“After coming home from Merritt at the Thanksgiving Day Tournament with a silver we were hungry for gold,” said coach Marty Gage, adding there was a total of six teams in the division competing against each other for the right to play in the gold medal game.
The Eagles had a date with a team from Surrey in the first round, where they found themselves down 3-1 halfway through the second period.
That was when Josh Borg and Clayton Bono ended up taking the game over by scoring three clutch goals, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Gage said the win was “a great start to the tourney! Bono was the player of the game for his offensive contributions (Bono notched a hat trick).”
The Eagles played their second game of the tournament against the Sooke Thunderbirds.
“Earlier this year we tied them, and this game also ended in a 5-5 tie,” said Gage.
Goals came in all three periods courtesy of captain Tanner Roberts (x2), Bono, and Michael Perez (x2).
Gage said afterwards the Eagles took too many penalties which cost them the victory, adding, “Michael Perez received player of the game for a couple of nice goals.”
The Eagles faced off against the Peninsula Eagles on Sunday morning, hammering them 7-0, with goals coming from Borg, David Charlie, Payton Laming (x2), Carson Strang, Bono, and Roberts. Eagles’ goalie Nigel Walkus picked up the shutout for his team.
“We dominated them,” said Gage, pointing out Laming was awarded player of the game for scoring goals and playing defence.
The Eagles fourth game of the tournament was against the Comox Valley Chiefs on Sunday afternoon, who they ended up defeating “in a heated affair,” said Gage.
Luke Gage scored three goals, Charlie scored twice, and Jesse Lloyd, Perez, and Bono all added goals to help push the Eagles on to a dominant 8-3 victory.
“We managed to keep our cool and we only received two penalties this game,” said Gage, adding, “Luke Gage received player of the game for netting a hat trick.”
With three wins and a tie, the Eagles had earned their spot in the finals against the Sooke Thunderbirds, who had also finished the tournament with three wins and a tie.
“The finals did not disappoint,” said Gage.
The Eagle’s got on the scoreboard first, thanks to Bono and Strang scoring to make it 2-0 early in the third period. The Thunderbirds then scored shortly after to make it 2-1.
With five minutes remaining in the game, the Thunderbirds managed to score again, tying the game up 2-2.
The Eagles “took a penalty late in the third that extended into overtime,” Gage said. “We managed to kill off the penalty and both teams had chances to end the game in the four-on-four five minute overtime period.”
Neither team was able to find the back of the net, so the game went into a sudden death shootout.
“Captain Tanner Roberts made a nice move on their goalie but couldn’t find the twine,” said Gage, adding, “Nigel then stopped their first shooter.”
Bono was up next for the Eagles, and he missed his shootout chance, but Walkus stood tall in the net and shut the door on the Thunderbirds second shooter.
“David Charlie walked in for our third shot, made a great move and beat their goalie through the five hole,” said Gage, adding the arena, “went nuts!”
The Thunderbirds still had the chance to tie it back up with their third shooter. Their player skated in, took a shot “and Nigel made another great save!” said Gage.
The Eagle’s stormed the ice and piled onto Walkus, celebrating the fact they had just won gold.
“Many players fought through injuries to contribute to the teams victories,” Gage said, adding, “Braden Walkus was given the weekend warrior award for his gutsy effort this weekend. He even came back in the final game after being hit into the boards causing a broken tooth and bloody mouth. He now looks like a real hockey player!”
Gage made sure to point out there is “not one player that should be acknowledged more than any other for this weekends performance — our team played hard, played well as a team, supported each other and fought through adversity to win this tournament. Good job to the coaches, manager and parents for all their support.”