North Island Eagles peewee goalie Nyck Ruel eyes a shot from Kerry Park's Ben Rose during their teams' playoff matchup Saturday in Port McNeill.

Ruel a target for visiting team

PORT McNEILL—On paper, the North Island Eagles peewee hockey team faced a bad matchup in their playoff opener.

PORT McNEILL—On paper, the North Island Eagles peewee hockey team faced a bad matchup in their Vancouver Island Hockey League playoff opener.

On the ice it was just as bad.

The Kerry Park Islanders scored early and often and rolled their way to a 20-1 Tier 3 North win over the Eagles Saturday at Chilton Regional Arena.

The Islanders competed all season at the VIHL’s Division 2 level, where they posted a strong third-place showing.

The young Eagles team, meanwhile, made up primarily of first-time rep players, was placed in the lower, Division 4 league. Even there, the peewees struggled early in the season before developing into a competitive force at that level.

The playoffs proved to be another level altogether, as Kerry Park simply overwhelmed the hosts. With the Islanders controlling play with their forecheck, Eagles goalie Nyck Ruel was essentially a shooting-gallery target.

The North Islanders were able to break out of their zone on occasion, but were never able to set up an offensive attack in the Kerry Park zone.

The Eagles averted a shutout in the third period when Josh Walkus escaped the Islanders forecheck to lead a 2-on-1 rush. His high shot from the left circle was stopped by Kerry Park goalie Thomas Vaesen, but the goalie was unable to control the puck and when it tumbled to the ice Eagles forward Tim Alfred pounced for a point-blank rebound score.

The Eagles will need a win this Saturday at Powell River to avoid elimination from the postseason, but their challenge doesn’t get any easier. Powell River also competed in Division 2 this season and finished second, one spot ahead of Kerry Park.

The season will not end for the peewees this weekend, even with a loss. They are scheduled to play in a tournament in Sooke later this month, where the learning will continue.

 

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