PORT McNEILL—It took some time for the North Island Eagles peewee hockey team to get its offence into gear Saturday in a preseason exhibition game against visiting Comox.
It took hardly any time at all to pile up the goals once it did finally click.
Rhys Dutcyvich notched a hat trick and Devin White added two goals and an assist as the Eagles came from behind and cruised to a 6-2 win over the Chiefs at Chilton Regional Arena.
The Eagles (5-4) spent most of the first half of play skating in the Comox zone. Yet they trailed 1-0 after one period and managed just a 1-1 draw during the mid-game ice cleaning break.
“At the break we told them they weren’t playing as a team,” head coach Marty Gage said. “In the second half they did that. That was our best passing performance, by far. Some of the passes out there (Saturday) were at a level we hadn’t seen before.”
None of the peewees’ goals were cheap, nor did they come on breakaways or odd-man rushes. Rather, every score came off a snappy pass, and half of them earned two assists.
In the thick of the attack was the Eagles’ defence, which showed a sudden penchant for scoring when the opportunity presented itself.
After Dutcyvich gave the peewees their first lead with his second goal at 18:03 of the second period, blueliner Elliot Furney set up the eventual game-winner with an end-to-end rush that led to White’s one-timer from the slot.
“I just saw an opening and skated up behind their net,” said Furney. “Then I heard Devin’s voice and just passed it to the front — you can hear Devin’s voice over anything.”
That goal, at 5:46 of the third period, touched off a flurry of three goals in just over four minutes, including Dutcyvich’s third and a point shot by defenseman Tianna Walkus that wasn’t even meant to be a shot. Walkus basically flung the puck toward the crease, where a pair of teammates were camped. Both missed on attempts to redirect its path, but the screen was enough to allow the puck to slide past Comox goalie Avery Kampen.
“I was just trying to shoot it in front of the net so they had a chance to hit it in,” Walkus said. “Then I saw it just kind of slowly roll in.”
White capped the scoring by converting from the low slot on a pass from behind the net by linemate Ryan Patterson. The third member of the line, Luke Gage, got the second assist.
“We gave Devin the digger award for the game,” said Marty Gage. “His work ethic changed the momentum of the game. We call his line the ‘lunchbucket’ line because they work hard all the time.”
Mathew Saunders tallied three assists, Patterson finished with two and Carson Strang added a helper. Michael McLaughlin nailed down the win in goal for the peewees, who open league play with games in Port McNeill Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday in Port Hardy at 9 a.m. Their opponent was still being determined as the Gazette went to press this week.