The North Island Eagles rep bantams qualified for the second round of the Vancouver Island Tier 3 playoffs and the association’s other two teams kept their chances alive as the playoffs opened last weekend.
All three teams — midget, bantam and peewee — traveled for the opening round, and all three return to host home games this weekend in North Island arenas.
Bantams 4, Juan de Fuca 2
Cameron Grant scored two goals, including the game-winner late in the second period, as the Eagles bounced back from an early deficit.
Grant’s first goal, an unassisted tally with 28 seconds left in the opening period, tied the contest 1-1. Josh Walkus followed with another unassisted goal at 7:05 of the second to put the Eagles up 2-1. The host Grizzlies responded tied the score again at 14:10 of the second, but Grant converted off assists from Walkus and Nathan Sandeman at 17:34 to give the bantams the lead for good.
Kenton Browne added an insurance score at 10:31 of the third, with an assist from Sandeman. Nyck Ruel nailed down the win in goal.
Juan de Fuca was eliminated from the Tier 3 North division round-robin the following day in a 10-1 loss at Port Alberni. The Eagles will host Alberni Valley Saturday at 2 p.m. in Port Hardy in a game to determine the No. 1 and 2 seeds from the North into the Island semifinals.
On their way home Sunday, the bantams stopped off in Comox and posted a 3-2 exhibition win over the Chiefs B team. Walkus got the game-winner, snapping a 2-2 tie at 11:39 of the final period. Grant and Tanner Roberts also got goals in the contest, Emma Mitchell and Jake Grinnell collected assists, and Ruel snared his second straight win.
Tyren Dustin and Riley Heemels scored two goals each and George Walkus scored his first goal of the season Saturday as the Eagles midgets kicked off the postseason with a 9-2 romp at Juan de Fuca.
The midgets finished with a 1-1 record for the weekend after letting an early lead slip away in a 7-3 loss to Cowichan Valley.
Darryl Coon Jr., Tyson Cadwallader, David Shaw and Thomas Coon also scored in Saturday’s win. Darryl Coon had two assists and Dustin, Malcolm Browne, Thomas Symons, Alex Scott and Brandon Purdey each had a helper in the win.
On Sunday, Brett Walker’s first-period goal staked the Eagles to the early lead, but Cowichan Valley stormed back with four straight goals to take control. Goals by Darryl Coon and Heemels over the final two periods brought the midgets within 5-3 with 7:24 remaining, but the host Capitals pulled away with two late scores.
Dustin had two assists and Scott and Purdey contributed one each. Drake Baron and Troy Cadwell shared goaltending duties on the weekend.
The midgets play two more this week, hosting Alberni Valley Saturday at 1:45 p.m. in Port Alice and Comox Sunday at 11:30 a.m. in Port Hardy.
Carson Strang scored a hat trick and line mate Clayton Bono added two goals as the Eagles peewees charged from behind to earn a 5-5 tie at Port Alberni Sunday.
The Eagles fought back from deficits of 3-1 and 5-3, and Michael McLaughlin used a strong finish to earn the draw in goal. The teams was hampered by 26 minutes in penalties.
“Our guys did a real good job of keeping Alberni in their zone by playing an aggressive forecheck and our defence held the line when they had to,” peewee coach Marty Gage said.
That was something Campbell River could not manage Saturday as Alberni Valley steamrolled the Tyees in the first game of the round-robin Tier 3 North, 9-1.
The Eagles will now host Campbell River Saturday at 1 p.m. in Port McNeill, and can advance to the Vancouver Island Tier 3 semifinals with a win or a tie.