PORT HARDY—Eric Kennelly scored five goals and Ethan Shaw added a hat trick as the North Island Eagles midget rep hockey team overwhelmed visiting Juan de Fuca 12-3 in a Tier 3 elimination playoff Sunday.
One more effort like that could put the midgets into the provincial championships.
“We came to play,” head coach Mike Bell said after the midgets secured a berth in the Vancouver Island Tier 3 semifinals. “Now we need to go south with our ‘A’ game.”
The Eagles, the No. 2 seed from the North Division, travel this weekend to play South top seed Victoria. The other semifinal pits South runner-up Sooke at Alberni Valley, the No. 1 seed in the North.
Because Alberni Valley will host the provincial finals the Bulldogs have an automatic berth in B.C.’s Tier 3 championships. So any team that faces them in a prospective Island best-of-three final will gain a provincial spot, regardless how that series comes out.
“Hopefully Alberni takes care of business this weekend,” said Bell. “If they do, and we win, then we’re in.”
If the Eagles advance to provincials, it will mark the fourth time in six seasons for the 1996-born players, who have previously advanced in both the peewee and bantam divisions.
“We’ve got six guys graduating this year, so this is their last kick at the can,” said Bell. “Stevyn (Ruel) is giving up his school trip to Belize so he can go to provincials.”
Ruel was solid in goal for one half Sunday as the midgets jumped to leads of 4-0 and 5-1 before the ice-cleaning break. Alex Howard took over in net after intermission and got plenty of cushion as Kennelly scored a natural hat trick within a two-minute span to push the lead to 8-1.
Robbie Heavenor added two goals and Chad Bell and Malcolm Browne each scored one. Bell added a team-high six assists, Kennelly and Shaw had three apiece and Heavenor and fellow blue-liner Ty Brittain each added two helpers.
It was the first meeting of the year between the Eagles, who competed in the Vancouver Island Hockey League’s third division, and the Grizzlies, who spent the regular season competing in Division 2.
“We spent the week in practice looking at taking care of the puck in our own end,” said Bell. “And the guys executed. It was one clearing pass after another. Then our skill took over at the other end.”