It was a tough outing at the Chilton Regional Arena for the North Island Midget Eagles.
After winning their first playoff game 6-5 down island against the Oceanside Generals, the Eagles were then scheduled to face off with the Powell River Kings, the second best Tier 2 team who were dropping down to play Tier 3 for playoffs.
The game between the two teams kicked off at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday in Port McNeill, and the Kings wasted no time dominating possession of the puck, making it tough for the Eagles to get any kind of offence going at all.
The Kings kept on pressuring and managed to draw a few penalties, which would come back to haunt the Eagles over the three periods of play.
Kings defenceman Ruven Hope ended up drawing first blood at 11:05 of the first period off a power play point shot through traffic that found its way past Eagles goaltender Avary Miller.
From there, the Kings continued to pressure, scoring again at 2:53 thanks to Dignan Winmill firing the puck from the corner of the ice (assists going to Carter Alexander and Ross Ciarniello) to take a big two-goal lead going into the second period.
In the second, the Kings again wasted no time getting on the scoreboard.
Isaac Shelton converted at 12:56, assisted by Callum Street and Tate Van Hees, to make it 3-0, and that’s how things between the two teams would stay until the ice clean.
After the clean, the Eagles came out of the dressing room determined to fight back get themselves back into the game.
After going on the power play, Tristan Mardell scored down low from the side of the net at 7:58, assists going to Joey Grant and Kai Cyr, but the Kings refused to break and they came storming back down the ice and ended up scoring three more goals before the end of the period, courtesy of Jackson Frost (x2) and Jake McCormick, to give them a 6-1 lead.
The third period was a little quieter.
Cyr managed to score off a rebound early on at 19:36, assists going to Grant and Mardell, but the Kings answered right back at 19:09 with another goal from Hoppe to make it 7-2, and that’s how the game quietly came to an end.
Head coach Ryan Handley noted the Eagles “spent too much of the first half waiting for something bad to happen and not dictate game play.”
He added the mood after the game in the dressing room “was very accountable” and the team knows how and what they need to do next weekend to get themselves in a position to play the Kings again.
“I thought some players had strong games and others needed a fire lit… There just wasn’t enough compete and as a group we have to figure out what our roles are and where we can help. We aren’t a team that can rely on three or four players, we have to have everyone on board. It’s the simple things like not losing a puck battle when we have possession and then giving up.”
While the Eagles are currently short benched two players, Handley said that’s no excuse. “Guys do get tired, but at the end of the day it’s all about how bad you want it and we didn’t want it bad enough.”
As far as goaltending, Handley felt Miller “battled hard right till the end — she’s such a competitor and never quits… We will have a couple hard practices and leave it all on the line next weekend, cause it’s do or die now and it’s time for actions and results, not talk.”
The Eagles will be back in action on the weekend down island against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs to see who goes on to the semi-final playoff round.