In last weekend’s hockey doubleheader on the North Island, the Sooke midgets managed just two goals each day.
For Tri-Port Eagles forward Eric Kennelly, that was an average period.
Kennelly amassed 13 points and goalie Stevyn Ruel was solid in net both days as the host Eagles topped Sooke 8-2 in a Saturday exhibition game in Port McNeill before blasting the Thunderbirds 9-2 in a Vancouver Island Hockey League Division 3 league matchup Sunday in Port Hardy.
“We stayed out of the (penalty) box,” Eagles coach Mike Bell shrugged when asked about the turnaround from the teams’ last meeting, when the midgets settled for a 4-4 tie at Sooke. “We have more skill than all the teams we’re playing in our league, but not when we’re playing them four on five.”
The contentious weekend series offered the Eagles plenty of chances to earn cheap penalty minutes. Sooke coach kept a virtual running dialogue going with the officiating crew Saturday in Port McNeill, and the officials were forced to eject a Thunderbirds fan from Sunday’s game in Port Hardy.
But when the Sooke players tried to goad them into retaliation, the midgets declined to rise to the bait.
“They took a lot of shots and didn’t retaliate,” Bell said of his charges. “And that’s the key.”
The wins wrapped up the 2012 portion of the schedule, who have a 6-3-1 record against league opponents. To illustrate Bell’s point, in the last two of those losses, the Eagles averaged 41 penalty minutes per game. In last weekend’s sweep, they averaged 16.
Eagles 8, Thunderbirds 2
Kennelly and Chad Bell each scored two goals as Tri-Port raced to a 5-0 lead midway through the game and coasted to the win.
Sooke came out of intermission skating hard, and potted two second-period goals to cut the deficit to 5-2. But Kennelly pounced on a sloppy pass while chasing on a penalty kill and netted the shorthanded goal, and added the final score on a power-play slap shot from the point, his fourth goal of the game.
Malcolm Browne and Darryl Coon Jr. added goals in the win, and Robbie Heavenor and Ethan Shaw each contributed three assists. Bell, Kennelly, Coon and Ty Brittain added helpers.
Eagles 9, Thunderbirds 2
Kennelly tallied a natural hat trick and then some Sunday in Port Hardy, scoring the final five goals of the game after Sooke pulled within 4-2 on Quinton MacDonell’s score at 14:08 of the second period.
Shaw was the primary setup man in the eruption, tallying five assists to go with his first period goal.
Bell, Shaw and Tyson Cadwallader each scored as the midgets grabbed a 3-0 first-period lead. After Sooke got on the board early in the second, Bell potted his second goal to restore the advantage at 4-1.
Kennelly had assists on three of the first four goals before taking on the late scoring duties, and Heavenor added four more assists to give the defenseman seven on the weekend.
Coon contributed two assists and Zach Swanson added a single in the victory.