The North Island Midget Eagles returned to home ice on Sunday, Oct. 16 at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena in Port Hardy, for a preseason tiering game against the tier 2 Comox Valley Chiefs.
The game was a barn burner right from the drop of the puck. The Eagles set the tone early on with some solid body checks. They outworked the Chiefs against the boards and created the better offensive chances with some great passes.
Their hard work at both ends of the ice paid off. With 6:53 left in the 1st period, the Eagles’ Sean Pineda, assisted by Randi Ward, netted the first goal of the game.
In the 2nd period, the Eagles continued to dominate the possession of the puck, passing the puck up and down the boards with ease. At 17:39, the Eagles’ Tanner Roberts scored, giving them a 2-0 lead going into the 3rd period.
The 3rd period was where the Eagles really started to pour it on, hammering the Chiefs goalie with six unanswered goals, courtesy of Roberts (x2), David Charlie, the Eagles’ captain Kenton Browne, and Cameron Grant.The game mercifully came to an end 7-0 for the Eagles.
The Eagles’ Coach Chad Mackenzie was pleased with the team’s efforts. “I thought the kids showed up, played a hard game from the first minute to the last minute. They deserved the score they got.”
Mackenzie added that he thinks the Midget team this year is “a great group. They all get along and they’re all happy to play with whoever they’re on the ice with. They all believe in each other. We have a team where every bodies playing on the same page, it doesn’t matter who you put out there, they’re all buying in (to the system).”
When asked who he felt specifically stepped up this game, Mackenzie stated that the Eagles’ goalie Nigel Walkus “didn’t get a lot of shots, but he definitely deserves a nice mention” before adding that the win was “an overall team effort.”
At this point, Mackenzie is not sure what tier the team will end up in. “It’s possible we could play tier 2, but it’s really just a numbers game where we end up.”
Regardless of the tiering system, he really just wants the Eagles “to show up, work hard, and have a good season. I want them to have fun and push themselves.”
The Eagles won the tier 3 league banner last season, and Mackenzie was quick to reply that he has the exact same expectations for the team this season. “We’re gonna set our sights high. I’m gonna push the group and see how far they can go.”
This is Mackenzie’s first year as a head coach, and so far “everything is going really well. I can’t complain I’m happy,” he said with a laugh. “I basically just want to make sure the kids are having a good time. I want to push them hard and give them the respect they deserve, because they’re the ones out there on the ice working for you.”