While a snowstorm may have cancelled one of the North Island Bantam Eagles last two games of the season, it didn’t stop the team from travelling down island and coming back home as champions.
The Eagles, sporting a division leading 11-1 record, had a date with the middle of the pack Tier 2 Nanaimo Clippers (4-4 record) at the NIC arena on Sunday afternoon, and did they ever come out firing early and often.
Landon Turgeon would find the back of the net with 36 seconds left in the first period, and then Zach Spafford converted at 13:29 of the second to make it 2-0.
The Clippers returned fire on the power play at 12:29 thanks to Ryder Lynch, assisted by Manav Kandola, but Spafford would score again with 37 lefts on the clock to give them back the two-goal lead (Spafford finished the regular season with 26 goals in 19 games).
Into the third period the game went, and Lynch managed to pick up his second goal of the game at 17:38 to once again bring them within one of tying the game.
That was it for the Clippers, though, as Turgeon poured on the offence by scoring back to back goals at 6:33 and 3:51, assists going to Spafford and Jack Barrett, and the Eagles cruised to a strong 5-2 victory, clinching the Tier 2 league banner in the process.
All told, the Eagles finished the season with a 12-1 record, scoring 71 goals for while their goaltender Logan Lamothe allowed only 33 goals against (lowest goals against average in the entire Tier 2 division).
After the game, head coach Glenn Moore noted that it seems to be a common theme this season “where we are battling something — this weekend it was illness, as a couple of our guys were under the weather.”
Despite some players not feeling 100 per cent, Moore said that having a full lineup “enabled us to keep combinations together and get rolling right off the opening puck drop. We did a lot of very good things in all zones of the ice and we were able to finish off the regular season with a strong game and secure the banner.”
He added the team hasn’t really talked much about winning the league banner, mainly because they know “it’s not our ultimate goal. Instead of having a yard sale of gear after the game, the boys went back to the dressing room where we talked about it briefly. We will enjoy the moment for now, but with playoffs starting next weekend, we know it’s back to work on Tuesday.”