PORT McNEILL—The North Island Eagles peewee rep hockey team is clearly gaining on the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
They’ll have to wait another week for a chance to catch and pass them.
Cowichan Valley, a Tier 2 program competing this season in Vancouver Island Hockey’s third division, rolled to a 10-5 win over the host Eagles Saturday at Chilton Regional Arena in the first game of a weekend exhibition doubleheader. That win followed an 8-1 home romp by the Capitals in league play a week earlier, but Sunday’s rematch was a different story.
The Eagles, riding goals from Devin White, Payton Laming and Clayton Bono and the goaltending of Michael Perez, carried a 3-3 tie into the third period before a power-play goal and two late breakaways lifted the Capitals to a deceptive, 6-3 win.
“I think they’re probably the best team in our division,” Eagles coach Marty Gage said. “But we could have won that game.”
The teams will meet again in league play next Saturday in Port Alice. Meanwhile, the Eagles will get back to practice and prepare for a single league game in Port Alberni this weekend.
Saturday’s game got away from the hosts early, as Cowichan raced to a 4-1 first-period lead. But in Sunday’s rematch, Perez kept the Capitals off the board in the opening period and White converted off Luke Gage assist to give the Eagles the early lead.
“Michael gave us a chance to win,” said Marty Gage. “He was outstanding, especially at the beginning of the game. But we’ve to have more discipline.”
Back-to-back goals in the second period, one of them on the power play, pushed Cowichan in front. Laming tied the game 2-2 at 9:09 of the second with his rebound conversion of Mandy Foldy’s point shot, but Cowichan struck on another power play to make it 3-2 at 13:35.
Less than a minute and a half later, Bono knotted the score again when he gathered a rebound in the slot with his back to the net, then spun and whipped a forehand past Capitals goalie Matt Simpson.
But early in the third period the peewees’ penalty troubles caught up to them again. With Cowichan skating with a man advantage, Jarrett Juch stole a pass near mid ice and skated in alone to wrist the game-winner over Perez from the circle at 2:41.
The last two Capitals goals both came on breakaways, one after an Eagles defender fell down trying to prevent a clearing pass and the other when another defender lost the puck off the end of his stick and it was scooped up on the fly by Cowichan’s Hayden Plester.
Otherwise, though, the game was a back-and-forth, evenly played contest suggesting the Eagles are closing the gap on the Capitals.
“It was a very competitive game, and that’s all we ask from them,” Gage said. “The team is a little disappointed right now, but that’s because they thought they were going to win.”
Mathew Saunders and Carson Strang added assists for the Eagles.
Cowichan 10, Eagles 5
When Rhys Dutcyvich took a pass from behind the net from Saunders and one-timed it from the slot at 5:29 of the opening period, the Eagles were tied 1-1. But the Capitals scored three straight goals to end the period, and added another early in the second to craft a 5-1 lead.
Bono converted the rebound off Strang’s shot from the circle at 8:34 of the second to make it 5-2 at intermission, but Cowichan stormed out of then ice-cleaning break with two more goals to essentially put it away.
The Eagles did find some more offence the rest of the way. Dutcyvich went end to end for a power-play goal at 15:48 of the second, Saunders scored shorthanded at 18:04, and Luke Gage capped the scoring off a Benton Browne assist with the Eagles on a 5-on-3 power play at 17:24 of the third.