The North Island Midget Eagles defeated the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and then lost to the Powell River Kings. (Anthony Bucci photo)

North Island Midget Eagles crush Alberni Valley Bulldogs, get chopped down by Powell River Kings

“I’m not giving up and they shouldn’t either”

It’s been quite the rollercoaster ride for the North Island Midget Eagles.

After starting playoffs with a big 6-5 win over the Oceanside Generals, the Eagles travelled back home to play the Powell River Kings, where they were soundly beaten 7-2. With a 1-1 playoff record, the Eagles next game down island against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs was do or die, with the winner advancing to the best-of-three finals.

The showdown between the Eagles and the Bulldogs was held Feb. 15 at 4:45 p.m., and it was one for the ages.

The Bulldogs got out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Carson Steel and Colton Scott (assists going to Chase Nicklin and Jack McKean), but the Eagles returned fire at 5:32 of the first period with a goal from Tyler Roper, which was assisted by Kai Cyr.

The Eagles kept pressuring in the second period, and Luke Gage converted at 10:47 to tie things up.

David Porter would then score for the Bulldogs at 7:21 to give them the lead back, and Scott would find the back of the net at 17:18 of the third period to give them another two-goal lead.

The Eagles, however, refused to let their season go down in flames, and it was Joey Grant and Tristan Mardell who both scored twice in the third to give the Eagles a 6-4 lead, and that’s how the game came to an end.

“The heart and determination of this group is simply unmatched at times,” said head coach Ryan Handley after the game. “We got down early and the mood on the bench wasn’t good, I had to remind them of the process, ups and downs, and to not lose focus.”

Handley noted that before the game the team discussed “how we wanted to use our lines as we were down two skaters, so we decided as a group to run three lines up front and four defence. Keeping guys together and gaining some chemistry and familiarity was key.”

The Eagles were feeling sore afterwards, as “Alberni came at us physically but we didn’t back down, we hit back. We picked our spots and they didn’t like it,” Handley said, adding that everyone on the team “had a big game and we knew beforehand it would have to be that way if we were going to be successful.”

Defeating the Bulldogs was a great feeling for the group, Handley added.

“We have definitely had some bitter and tough trips home from that building, but it was a great feeling leaving on a positive note this time. I guess you could say after three years of countless battles and playoff games, we finally slayed the dragon.”

With the victory in hand, the Eagles moved on to the best-of-three finals against longtime rivals, the Powell River Kings.

The first game in the series went down Feb. 22 at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena, and it definitely did not go in the Eagles’ favour.

The Kings pounded them with seven goals over three periods, with the only highlight for the Eagles being Grant firing home a puck from the slot late in the third period to break the shutout.

All told, the Kings earned a dominant 7-1 victory.

“We had a couple good shifts early and had a good scoring chance the second shift out, but we didn’t really mount much of an attack for too many stretches of the game,” said Handley. “We didn’t move the puck like we needed to against a team like that. In order to beat that team we have to play near-perfect hockey and still get a couple breaks.”

Handley noted that if the Eagles aren’t willing to do whatever it takes to win their next game, “our season will be over — that may be harsh but it’s the truth. We’ve talked all year about puck movement, getting pucks in deep and getting in on the forecheck — when we do that we are successful, but for whatever reason we’ve lost sight of that. All we have now is two practices to try and regroup, it’s an uphill climb, but I’m not giving up and they shouldn’t either.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Just Posted

UPDATE: North Island Green Party nomination still to be determined

Moen says all issues should be viewed through environmental lens

COVID-19 has caused many changes for Port Hardy Fire Rescue so far this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue’s first and second quarterly reports for 2020 were reviewed by council.

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

NDP candidate Babchuk a fixture in local politics since 2005

School trustee, city councillor and regional district chair sets sights on being North Island MLA

Sointula elementary school gets funding for new playground

Funding for the new playground comes from the provincial government’s Playground Equipment Program.

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Shawnigan Lake’s Kubica gets 25 to life for murder in California

Former Shawnigan Lake man convicted of killing woman in 1990

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Duration of Tour de Rock stop in Chemainus much shorter than usual

Four alumni riders don’t get to come for breakfast in COVID year

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Police seek help in naming Cowichan farm stand theft suspect

Video captured man prying cash box out stand on Norcross Road

Most Read