PORT HARDY—A Mathew Saunders hat trick helped the rep peewees battle back from a two-goal deficit on their way to a 5-3 exhibition victory over the Campbell River Tyees Sunday.
Saunders’ third and the Eagles’ fifth was an empty-netter in the dying seconds of a nail-biting third period, padding the score in what was a hugely entertaining, open and flowing game.
The sides were tied at one apiece at the mid-game ice-cleaning break, Saunders’ first off a Benton Browne assist cancelling out the Tyees’ opener.
Whatever the Campbell River coach said in the dressing room clearly had an effect as the down-Islanders wasted no time on returning to the ice, finding a way past Eagles goalie Michael Perez twice in thirty seconds.
The Eagles were stung into action, mounted an onslaught of their own in the Tyees’ zone, and were rewarded with a quick brace of scores with five minutes on the clock.
Payton Laming did well to shield the puck on the boards down low before turning inside his man and finding Carson Strang behind the Tyees goal. Strang looked up and found Clayton Bono in the slot, and his one-timer found its way though heavy traffic and into the top corner.
Forty seconds later the Eagles were level. Browne found Luke Gage off the puck drop and he handed off to Saunders behind the net. Saunders went right with a wraparound to claim his second.
The Eagles finally got their noses in front early in the third through a Tianna Walkus strike off of a Devin White assist. And they can thank their goalie for keeping the lead.
Under pressure as the down-Islanders rallied, Perez responded brilliantly to get across his goal and glove a point-blank Tyees effort that was destined for the top drawer.
The home side piled on plenty of pressure of their own and nabbed a fifth with 12.1 seconds left, Saunders breaking from his own half and firing into the empty Tyees net for his third.