PORT McNEILL—The North Island Eagles’ peewee rep hockey team bounced back from a ragged effort Saturday to put everything together Sunday in a 6-3 win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in placement-round play at Chilton Regional Arena.
And the team’s coaching staff could sense the team’s improvement even before it stepped on the ice.
“I could tell the difference right from the moment they arrived at the arena,” peewee head coach Marty Gage said. “I could just feel they were going to do something (Sun)day.”
Clayton Bono had two goals and two assists and Rhys Dutcyvich added two more goals against Alberni Valley as the peewees improved to 2-1 in the five-game tiering round.
On Saturday, the Eagles surrendered three shorthanded goals to Sooke and generally struggled on special teams at both ends of the ice in an 8-3 loss to the visiting Thunderbirds.
“There’s no doubt Sooke is a quality team,” Eagles coach Marty Gage said. “But they’re beatable. We just didn’t come ready to play.”
In Sunday’s weekend finale, the Eagles actually fell behind 2-0 in the first six minutes of play. But rookie goalie Michael Perez allowed just one more score the rest of the way and the hosts knotted the score and inexorably pulled away.
Back-to-back goals from Bono before the end of the opening period tied the score at 2, and Dutcyvich gave the peewees their first lead with a goal at 9:26 of the second. Alberni quickly knotted it again at 3-3 on Kollin Walker’s tally at 11:52. But that was the visitors’ last hurrah.
Devin White pushed the Eagles back in front with a goal at 15:18 of the second, and Dutcyvich added his second at 6:18 of the third to make it 5-3.
Avory Collins wrapped up scoring with his first career goal as a rep player and as a peewee, into an empty net with 22.5 seconds left. Teammate Mathew Saunders set up the score, leading a 2-on-1 break after the Bulldogs pulled goalie Bobby Dingsdale. While he might have taken the shot himself, Saunders sent a crossing pass to Collins, who skated alone into the slot and easily dropped the puck into the net.
Sooke 8, Eagles 3
Only one goal was scored in the opening period Saturday in Port McNeill. But it was a shorthanded tally by the visiting Thunderbirds, setting the tone for the day.
Sooke added a power-play goal and two more shorthanded scores in the second period to roll to a 4-0 lead before the Eagles finally got on the board on Bono’s power-play rebound score at 3:17 of the third period.
The peewees had actually carried much of the action when the teams skated at even strength, but were unable to punch home a score.
Sooke scored two more goals after Bono’s icebreaker, pushing its lead to 6-1 before the hosts put together a belated run.
Bono one-timed a pass from Carson Strang in the slot to bring the Eagles to 6-2 at 16:30, and moments later White appeared to lift home another score with a backhand from the slot. But White’s goal was disallowed due to an attacker in the crease, and Sooke capitalized by racing the length of the ice on the ensuing face-off to score its seventh goal at 17:48.
Matthew Clark, who finished with four goals, got his last at 18:26 to make it 8-2 before Dutcyvich got free on a breakaway, deked the goalie to the ice and then fired home the final score with 50.9 seconds to go.
After opening with three games on the North Island, the peewees wrap up their placement schedule this weekend with two games in Victoria, Saturday against the Victoria Hawks and Sunday at Victoria Racquet Club.