SUBMITTED PHOTO The North Island Peewee Eagles proudly hold up the Tier 3 Playoff Banner.

North Island Peewee Eagles bring home the playoff banner

“They will cherish and carry this experience with them throughout their lives.”

The North Island Peewee Eagles reached the promise land after winning the best of three playoff finals against the Kerry Park Islanders.

The Eagles were up one game in the series thanks to a 6-5 overtime victory in Port Hardy last weekend, and the rematch was held down island on Saturday afternoon.

The game was heated right from the first drop of the puck, with the Islanders getting on the board first at 17:10 thanks to a goal from Brendyn Van Oene, assisted by Jacob Leamy.

The Eagles would return fire late in the period, with captain Lucca Stewart scoring at 4:46 to tie things up (assists went to Jack Barrett and Zach Spafford).

In the second, the Eagles would strike first thanks to Stewart scoring his second of the game at 18:49, which was assisted again by Spafford.

The Islanders would tie the game back up later on in the period with a goal from Wade Enger, assisted by Quinn Bond, but the Eagles would take the lead back seconds later at 7:11 thanks to Spafford finding the back of the net (assisted by Stewart and Barrett).

The Eagles would go on to add one more goal before the end of the period, this time from Barrett, making it 4-2.

Spafford would kick things off on the right foot for the Eagles at the start of the third period, scoring at 16:18 to give them a three-goal lead, but the Islanders’ Damien Sutton returned fire at 9:25 to bring them within two of tying the game.

However, it was too little to late for the Islanders, as Barrett scored again at 8:25 to make it 6-4.

The Islanders would get one more goal with five seconds left on the clock, but it mattered not, as Eagles’ goaltender Lucas Handley held on to win 6-5, earning the right to hold up the playoff banner.

After the game, assistant coach Chad Mackenzie said the team “kept their heads level throughout multiple situations that they could have easily been selfish. We had three top lines up front and a wall on the defensive end. Kerry park got desperate near the end and the kids stayed focused.”

Assistant coach Kevin Livingston agreed, stating it was “a total team effort. Every player on every line played their hearts out and gave it their all. During training camp, us coaches knew we had a special group, and the way the kids came together over the year was tremendous.”

Livingston added the coaches are “so proud of this group of kids — they are all truly one of a kind. It has been a pleasure working with Dave, Chad, Dennis, our manager Bonnie Barrett and all the parents. The opportunity to attend a prestigious tournament like this is a lifetime achievement for theses kids and is so hard to get to. This will be an amazing experience for these young men and women. They will cherish and carry this experience with them throughout their lives.”

While the team was thrilled to win, Livingston warned they still have “lots of work to do in the next two weeks before we go, but we will be ready and we will see where we stand with all the top teams in Tier 3 across the province. (It’s) going to be an exciting time in Powell River.”

After the win, head coach Dave Stewart was quoted as saying “you couldn’t punch the smile off my face.”

The Eagles will be back in action March 17-21 in Powell River at the Tier 3 BC Championships.

 

NICKI RANGER PHOTO The North Island Peewee Eagles arrive at the arena, ready to go to battle for the playoff banner against Kerry Park.

TYSON WHITNEY PHOTO The North Island Peewee Eagles top line dominated the Islanders, scoring six goals.

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