Midget rally falls short in playoff opener

North Island Eagles face must-win game in Vancouver Island North playoff.

Forward Ethan Shaw enjoyed a huge offensive game, but it wasn’t quite big enough to lift the North Island Eagles midgets to victory in the opening game of the Tier 3 Vancouver Island North playoffs last weekend.

Shaw scored all five Eagles goals, but a big comeback effort fell just short in a 6-5 road loss to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

The midgets return to action at home this weekend in a must-win game against Juan de Fuca. Puck drops at noon at Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena in Port Hardy, with the winner going on to the Vancouver Island Hockey League Tier 3 semifinals.

Alberni Valley entered Saturday’s game having competed all season at the Division I level, the highest in the league. The Bulldogs jumped to leads of 3-0 and 4-1, but the Eagles began their rally on Shaw’s second goal shortly before the mid-game intermission, which made it a 4-2 game.

Shaw and the hosts traded two goals each over the latter half of the second period, making it 6-4, before the game turned defensive.

Alberni Valley did not score again, and Shaw scored off a Chad Bell assist at 15:05 of the third period to make it a one-goal game.

The loss forced the midgets into a must-win game Sunday against Juan de Fuca, which suffered an 8-1 home loss to Alberni Valley Sunday in the three-team round-robin. The winner of Sunday’s game will take the North’s second seed into the Island semifinals. Saanich, Victoria and Sooke are the three South Island teams battling in the opposite bracket.

Eric Kennelly had two assists in Shaw’s scoring spree Saturday. Chad Bell and Malcolm Browne added helpers in the loss.