PORT HARDY — Curtis McCarrick scored three straight goals, including the game-winner, as the North Island Eagles bantam rep hockey team roared back from a three-goal deficit for a 4-3 win over Alberni Valley in the final game of the Vancouver Island Hockey League Tier 2 season.
The Bantams (17-11, 4-6 league) will now slide into Tier 3 for the Vancouver Island playoffs and the hunt for a berth in the Provincial Championships.
“We’re definitely hoping to keep the momentum going into the playoffs,” bantam coach Clint Cadwallader said. “It’s a lot better going in on a high than on a low.”
The Eagles were about as low as they could have been early in the second period, with Alberni sitting on a 3-0 lead.
But Chad Bell punched in a rebound of a McCarrick shot at 5:22 of the second and Tyson Cadwallader rounded the net to set up McCarrick’s one-timer from the circle at 8:39 as the bantams clawed within 3-2 at the mid-game ice cleaning.
Despite the shaky first half, there was no yelling from the coaches in the dressing room during intermission.
“All the kids spoke and told themselves how much they wanted to win it,” Clint Cadwallader said. “Then they went out and just plain outworked (Alberni) in the second half. It was a good effort win.”
McCarrick drew the bantams even at 15:29 of the second off another slick pass from Tyson Cadwallader. He got the game-winner with just 2:12 left in the game, on a easy chip into an open net after the rebound of Bell’s slap shot from the slot eluded Alberni goalie Ryan Price.
Bell finished with three assists.
Goalies Clayton Ellis and Riley Mathieson each played a half in net, with Mathieson getting the victory in relief.
Comox 6, Eagles 4
On Sunday, the bantams traveled for a final exhibition against the Comox Chiefs Tier 1 club, and twice came from behind to tie the game before falling in the third period.
Malcolm Browne and Tyson Cadwallader had first-period goals to tie the game 2-2, and Darryl Coon and Coltton Slater scored in the second to make it 4-4 before Comox got the game-winner at 12:01 of the third.
McCarrick had three assists in the loss. Single assists went to Tyren Dustin, Thomas Coon, Darryl Coon, Slater and Bell.