The North Island Bantam Eagles continued their relentless run of domination, and they have some shiny new ‘bling’ to prove it.
The Eagles made the trek down to the Comox Valley to compete in a Tier 2 tournament during Christmas break, and they started things off on Jan. 2 with a bang, hammering the Tier 1 Comox Valley Chiefs 7-2, with goals coming from Kale Hunt, Aren Kufaas, Jayden Bucci, Tye Morash x3, and captain William Grant. Assists went to Hunt, Lucca Stewart, Christopher Topfer, Zach Spafford, and Jonah Johnson.
The Eagles would play again later on that night against the Tier 2 Victoria Admirals, and this time they managed to skate away with a big 6-3 victory, thanks to goals from Grant (x2), Jack Barrett, Spafford (x2), and Hunt. Assists went to Kufaas, Spafford, Bucci, Barrett, Grant (x2), and Topfer.
The Eagles were then scheduled for a 9:15 a.m. game the next morning against the Cloverdale Colts, and this game ended up not being close at all as the Eagles pounded them 6-1, with goals coming from Grant (x3), Spafford (x2), and Morash. Assists went to Morash (x3) and Grant (x2).
Now sporting a 3-0 record, the Eagles ended up with a semi-final rematch against the Tier 1 Chiefs, and this time the game was much closer, with the Eagles narrowly skating away with a 4-3 victory. Goals were scored by Grant, Morash, and Stewart (x2). Assists went to Morash (x2), Adam Russell, Spafford, Grant (x3), and Topfer.
With the gold medal game on Jan. 4 against the Colts, the Eagles knew they had their destiny well in hand, they just needed to realize it.
And that’s exactly what they did, even if took some real grit and determination.
Down 3-1 after the ice clean (second period goal was scored by Landon Turgeon, assisted by Stewart and Garrett Beek), the Eagles managed to rally and pull of an incredible comeback, winning 5-3 thanks to goals from Grant and Spafford (x3), assists going to Spafford, Stewart, Barrett, and Morash.
“It was a good weekend for our group,” said head coach Glenn Moore. “We had to battle through some adversity that we are not used to, especially being down 3-1 at the ice clean in the gold medal game. It was pretty quiet in the room and there were a few choice words, but in the end we knew we just had to get back to work.”
Moore added that each and every guy came out of the dressing room and played hard, and they all truly did everything it took to get the win. “I’m hoping by facing adversity and overcoming it, this will help us later on in the season when the games start to get really important.”
Grant was really proud of his gold medal, stating that while he felt it was a pretty slow start to the weekend as the team was coming off Christmas vacation, “we definitely battled through it.”
He noted all the teams in the tournament were “pretty good, but Cloverdale was probably the best — they didn’t have a great game the first time we played, but the second time they gave us a good battle.”
All told, Grant felt the Eagles “played as a team really well all the way through the tourney.”
Hunt, who was finally able to come back and play after a couple months off due to a nasty finger injury, said it “feels pretty good” to play again, but joked that his fingers are “still pretty sore.”
He said the time off the ice was killing him, and that he “couldn’t wait” to get back and rejoin the team.
Barrett, who was sick with a cold during the tournament but still wanted to play and put in a bunch of important shifts, said he found the tournament was “good, but pretty tough” and that it ultimately was a “real team victory.”