A wild, third-period comeback fell just short as the North Island Eagles midgets bowed out of the Tier 3 playoff chase with a 3-2 semifinal loss at Sooke Saturday.
The host Thunderbirds, the top seed from the South Vancouver Island division, jumped quickly to a 3-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes over the Eagles, who travelled the length of the Island for the game.
“The effects of the drive showed,” midget coach D’Arcy Deacon said. “Our boys were a bit scattered in their play and left the ice feeling a little down about their first-period performance.”
But what seemed a blowout in the making turned quickly coming out of the first intermission. Midget goalie Drake Baron, victimized by a series of turnovers in the opening period, did not allow another goal in the game, and the skaters out front turned the tide despite failing to solve Sooke goalie Zach Mayo for another 20 minutes.
“In the dressing room we kept things very light telling some jokes and funny stories about staying positive during tough times,” Deacon said. “As a coaching staff we reminded the boys that for some of them this could be their last minor hockey game and that it was important to leave the ice with smiles on their faces.
“During the second period our boys evened out the play, narrowly missing on several power play chances while Sooke fought to maintain their self-control. It was a very fast-paced, competitive period.”
The game finally swung to the Eagles in the third, with David Shaw burying a blast from the point at 4:19 to make it 2-1. Fellow blueliner Brandon Purdey, getting extra ice time due to an injury to captain Coltton Slater, followed with another point shot, going top shelf on the power play at 7:46 to draw the Eagles to 3-2 with more than 12 minutes still to play.
“Our boys continued to dominate the play with multiple great scoring chances but just couldn’t find the back of the net,” said Deacon. “The final horn sounded with six skaters and an empty net as Sooke hung on tooth and nail.
“As coaches we are very proud of the way our boys played (Saturday).”
Sooke moves on to play for the Vancouver Island Tier 3 title against Alberni Valley, the North’s No. 1 seed, which dismantled Victoria 6-1 at home Saturday.