It was a classic case of great effort, no reward for the North Island Eagles atom development hockey team last weekend.
The atoms dropped a pair of decisions to visiting Peninsula by identical 4-2 scores, despite outshooting and mostly outplaying their guests both days.
The games played out quite differently, with the Eagles jumping ahead 2-0 in the first period of Saturday’s game in Port Alice and falling behind 3-0 Sunday in Port Hardy before rallying.
“We out-chanced them today, for sure,” atom coach Marty Gage said following Sunday’s game in Port Hardy. “To be down 3-0 and not give up all game, that was gratifying.”
The Eagles spent large chunks of both cames camped out in Peninsula’s end, potting shots on net only to be rebuffed repeatedly after Saturday’s quick start.
In Port Alice, Devin White scored at 6:39 of the opening period off a Tianna Walkus assist, and Rhys Dutcyvich gave the Eagles a 2-0 lead by punching in a rebound of Mathew Saunders’ shot less than three minutes later.
The atoms gave one goal back in the second on a shot on which goalie Michael McLaughlin was screened, but still carried a 2-1 edge into the third, when the visitors put home three more goals, two of them on breakaways and one on the power play.
“They’re a very good team,” Gage said of Peninsula. “We were 1-1 with them coming into the weekend. They earned it.”
Sunday in Port Hardy, the host Eagles failed to get their traditional fast start on offence, and the game remained scoreless going into the second period.
Outplayed up to that point, Peninsula took advantage of their lone power play, which sparked a run of three goals in a span of three-and-a-half minutes.
The Eagles regained momentum, but solid goaltending and positional defense by Peninsula kept the atoms off the board until Dutcyvich took a crossing pass from Saunders and lifted it top shelf for at 8:36 of the third.
After Peninsula scored again on a breakaway, Walkus got in front of a clearing pass at the visitors’ blue line and skated in to score on a wrist shot from the circle with 2:02 to play.
“Tianna’s shot, that was amazing,” said Gage, who looks forward to facing Peninsula again. “It’s nice to see two teams that evenly matched. That’s why we play the game.”