PORT HARDY—If the North Island Eagles peewee hockey team is establishing an identity in the early days of the 2013-14 season, it’s one of a come-from-behind team.
Rhys Dutcyvich scored his second hat trick in a week and Mathew Saunders added a pair of goals Sunday as the peewees rolled to an 8-6 Vancouver Island Hockey League Division 3 victory over Juan de Fuca Sunday at Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena.
The game was the league season opener for the peewees (6-5 overall), and followed a 3-2 loss to the same Juan de Fuca squad one day earlier, in a non-counting exhibition game. In that meeting, the Eagles went out in front 2-1 before the visiting Grizzlies rallied with a pair of third-period goals at Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill.
That result was reversed in emphatic fashion in Sunday’s rematch in Port Hardy.
The Eagles overcame deficits of 3-0 in the first period and 4-3 in the second to claim the league win, outscoring the Grizzlies 8-2 through the middle of the contest before the visitors got a late goal to close the gap.
“We started working hard and stopped taking bad penalties,” said Dutcyvich, who got the rally started with an unassisted goal in the final minute of the opening period and who eventually capped his hat trick with the game-winner midway through the third. “Some of the leaders stepped up, and we really picked it up by the end.”
Clayton Bono added a goal and assisted on two more, and Carson Strang and Devin White also scored in the win. Payton Laming, who netted two assists, was given the team’s digger award, and goalie Michael McLaughlin got the win in net, settling nicely after the rocky start.
“The kids stuck to the game plan,” assistant coach Chad McKenzie said. “They stayed focussed and kept positive with each other. They wanted the win, and they knew what it took to get it.”
The low point of the game for the Eagles came when they were skating on a power play and Juan de Fuca’s Nolan Kraeker scored shorthanded for a 3-0 Grizzlies lead at 13:17 of the first period.
But the peewees scored four of the game’s next five goals to knot the score 4-4, then turned the tide with their own shorthanded score late in the second period.
With Strang serving a five-minute major penalty, the Eagles not only killed the full penalty, but went ahead when Saunders scored for a 5-4 lead at 17:13 of the second period, giving the peewees the lead for good.
Bono and Juan de Fuca’s Evan Law traded goals early in the third period, but Bono, Dutcyvich and White followed with consecutive scores to push the Eagles’ lead to 8-5. That held up until the Grizzlies got the final score with 4:33 remaining.