PORT HARDY—The North Island Eagles midgets side returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion Saturday, steamrolling the visiting Saanich Braves 10-1 in Port Hardy.
After an unbeaten tiering run, the midgets fell to Juan de Fuca last week in the season opener, a loss attributed to a lack of teamwork by coaching staff. The players clearly took that lesson to heart as Saanich found themselves on the wrong side of a slick-passing masterclass.
Emma Mitchell was outstanding throughout for the Eagles, proving a constant threat in the Saanich zone, while Sarah Case in goal made a series of point-blank saves to frustrate the visitors. Case was denied the shutout by a Braves strike during a 5-on-3 power play.
Two goals just ahead of the ice-cleaning break bought the Eagles a 3-1 advantage to take into the dressing room. Returning to the ice, the home side closed out the second period with three textbook pass-and-shoot goals in less than a minute and added four more in a composed third period.
A blazing start from both sides provided an entertaining, end-to-end opening period with lots of pressure but few clear-cut chances.
The Eagles’ Darryl Coon broke the deadlock in the dying seconds of the first period, squeezing home from a tight angle with 3.3 seconds on the clock.
The visitors tied it on the double penalty but the Eagles struck twice in quick succession with a pair of one-timers on the crease from Brandon Purdey then Cameron Grant.
The Braves stepped up their forechecking after the break but a disciplined Eagles side stuck to a quick passing game. The puck movement paid off in spades as the Eagles ran off to a 6-1 lead through a trio of well-worked strikes in less than a minute.
Tyren Dustin grabbed the first, reacting ahead of the defence to poke in a loose puck. Just 24 seconds later Dustin struck again, converting Kenton Browne’s pass from behind the net. Mitchell made it six from the slot after a strong, driving run from Thomas Symons.
Credit to the visitors, the Braves kept pushing in the third but the home side frustrated the visitors and unforced errors began to creep in to the Saanich game.
Grant took advantage of some loose handling to steal the puck and put Sean Pineda in on goal in a move straight from a practice session. Pineda struck again soon after, tapping home an open-netter from an off-the-glass rebound.
Alex Scott made it 9-1 on the score of the night. Scott broke forward with the puck and laid off behind for Symons on the blue line. Symons decked and pinged it straight back to Scott, completely wrong-footing the defence, and Scott slammed the puck home.
Grant capped the win with a poke home on a goalmouth scramble.
Understandably, coach Aaron Hinton was much happier with this week’s performance. “That was the perfect game,” he said. “There was no selfishness out there, it was a totally different team this week — the passing was great, they played as a team.”
The midgets travel for a tournament in Port Alberni next weekend and return to home and league action Nov. 15 against Kerry Park in Port Alice.