The North Island Bantam Eagles continued their winning ways, this time picking up gold medals at a Remembrance Day tournament in Nanaimo.
The Eagles had a date with a team from Surrey to kick off the tournament on Nov. 9, and it turned out to be a pretty close game.
The Eagles managed to grind out the win, scoring goals in all three periods, courtesy of Kai Verbrugge (x2) and Tye Morash (x2), pulling out a hard-fought 4-2 victory
The next day the Eagles would face off against North Delta, this time hammering them with seven goals, thanks to Morash, Tyler Roper, William Grant, Liam Norman, Verbrugge, Tristan Mardell and Mannie Browne, coming away with a lopsided 7-2 win.
After that, the Eagles would go on to play a team from Whitehorse, which also turned out to be a fairly close game.
The Eagles scored six goals over three periods – Roper, Grant, Cole Klughart (x2) and Norman (x2) all chipped in – to take home a 6-4 win.
The team’s next game was the tournament semi-final, held on Remembrance Day at 7:15 a.m., against the Tier 2 Comox Valley Chiefs, and this time the Eagles came out flying, scoring a ton of goals courtesy of Verbrugge (x3), Grant, Kale Hunt (x2), Browne, captain David Klatt, Roper and Norman, to earn a huge 10-2 victory over the Chiefs.
With that win out of the way, the Eagles were guaranteed a rematch against Surrey in the gold medal game, and did they ever come out on fire.
The Eagles hammered the team from Surrey with seven goals, thanks to Morash (x2), Roper, Hunt, Klughart, Klatt and Verbrugge, skating off the ice with a 7-3 win and the gold medals firmly in their grasp.
Coach Ryan Handley summed up the team’s performance at the Remembrance Day tournament by stating the final game “started out very physical and the tempo was very quick. Surrey had a gameplan to try and knock us around to take our speed away. The boys stuck to the plan and they didn’t let anything get to them.”
Handley noted the Eagles’ speed “is something we really have to use to our advantage and Assistant Coach Glenn Moore really preaches using that outside and creating odd man rushes.”
He noted at the ice clean that the team felt pretty good about the game up to that point, “and we had a lot of jump considering we had about a five hour break between our early morning game and the finals.”
“We stressed discipline and doing the little things right and staying within our abilities,” said Handley. “I thought we got away from that against Whitehorse and we didn’t play very well. In a long season like we have you will have those games here and there, but the mark of a good team doesn’t allow it to carry on to the next game, and I thought our game versus Comox was better. I have such a great coaching staff with Steve Verbrugge, Glenn, and the addition of Thor Rosback has been great. The boys really have let him fit right in and he is having fun with it. We beat some good teams this past weekend and those boys worked their tails off to accomplish what we set out to do. Some guys had some real great weekends and everyone did their part. As Glenn says ‘its just one of the many steps in our journey this season’.”
After the tournament was over, the Eagles had two league games to play the next weekend, where they defeated the Oceanside Generals 7-3 – goals from Klatt (x3), Verbrugge (x3) and Morash – and then taking down the Nanaimo Clippers 8-1 the day after – goals coming from Hunt, Aaren Kufaas (x2), Klatt, Verbrugge, Brandon Brotchie and Grant – to improve their league play record to 5-0.
Handley added he is proud of his son Griffin, stating he has been terrific this season as goaltender, backstopping the Eagles to an 18-1-2 record overall, with five shutouts and a Goals Against Average of 1.90.