PORT HARDY—The local house midgets didn’t finish up with the win but they went down swinging against the Campbell River Hornets last weekend in the finals of the Port Hardy Midget Tournament.
Port Hardy’s 6-4 round-robin win against Comox Hamilton on Saturday was good enough to earn a berth in Sunday’s 5th/6th place playoff of the eight-team tourney.
The Port Hardy side — a mixed North Island squad made up of players from Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Port Alice and Alert Bay — went down 9-5 to the Hornets, but the final scoreline was somewhat misleading. Three of the Campbell River goals came in the final minutes of a penalty-plagued third period, and the local side showed huge heart to come back three times in a great game for the spectators.
Port Hardy actually opened the scoring early in the first period. Evan Gordon-Valan found Klyde Pausang down the left and he did well to come from behind the net under pressure to slot in a pass to Connor Scott waiting at the far post.
Campbell River replied with a back-door of their own before adding a second and taking a lead they would never relinquish.
Port Hardy tied it up before the buzzer with a stunning Jaidyn Staniforth solo effort. An icing call saw a puck drop in Hardy’s zone which Staniforth picked up and drove down the right through traffic to slot home.
Gordon-Valan got on the scoresheet himself in the second but his goal punctuated a four-goal tally for the visitors, leaving the home side chasing a 6-3 deficit.
To their credit, the locals never quit fighting and got one back when Corey Miller put Staniforth in on goal to bag his second.
A Jacob Foldy strike brought the home side back within one with 8:57 left to play but the momentum swung again and back-to-back strikes from the Hornets pushed them out to 8-5.
A series of penalties left Port Hardy on the wrong side of a 5-on-3 with the minutes ticking away and with just 1.8 seconds left the Hornets struck again to cap the win.
The North Island team used the tourney as an opportunity to unveil the new uniforms and logo recently purchased by Port Hardy Minor Hockey.
The tournament was won by the Fuller Lake Flyers, who topped the Nanaimo Cougars 7-5 in Sunday’s final.