The North Island Midget Eagles kicked off the start of their season with a two game series against the Oceanside Icebreakers at the Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill, Oct. 29-30.
The Eagles’ first game against the Icebreakers on Saturday was an exhibition, and it was a downright ugly one for the team, to say the least.
The Icebreakers came out firing right off the bat, scoring four goals in the first period alone. They continued to hammer the Eagles in the 2nd period, tallying three more goals to give them a 7-0 lead going into the 3rd period.
The Eagles played better in the 3rd, allowing only one more goal and managing to shut down the Icebreakers offence for large portions of time, but they were unable to make anything happen offensively and it showed on the scoreboard with an 8-0 loss.
“It was our second game in a month,” said Coach Chad Mackenzie, adding that the Eagles were “a little bit rusty and hadn’t played a team of that calibre yet. It was an eye opener.”
The Eagles arrived at the Chilton Regional Arena on Sunday morning with something to prove to themselves, and it showed on the ice.
The Eagles were ready to go to battle, and they controlled the puck right from the first face-off, passing up and down the ice well. They threw the bigger hits and worked the Icebreakers over against the boards, making them pay every chance they got.
The Eagles’ Cameron Grant opened the scoring at 12:53 with a great goal in front of the net, and they continued to control the flow of the game by battling hard for the puck every chance they got, and their goalie Nigel Walkus was making great saves to keep their lead in tact.
The Eagles got into a bit of penalty trouble near the end of the 1st period. They managed to successfully kill off an Icebreaker’s five on three man advantage, but the Icebreakers continued to pressure offensively, tying the game up 1-1 with a goal at 2:38.
The Eagles’ captain Kenton Browne answered right back with a big rebound goal to give them the lead 2-1 going into the 2nd period.
The 2nd period featured non-stop, back-and-forth action at both ends of the ice, with Walkus continuing to make great saves to keep the Eagles in the lead.
At 11:31, the Eagles’ Tanner Roberts deked around the defence and scored a beautiful goal to make it 3-1 for the Eagles.
The Icebreakers scored with 3:35 left on the clock, and continued to pressure offensively in the 3rd period, scoring two more goals to take the lead back 4-3 with less than three minutes on the clock.
The Eagles attacked relentlessly for the tying goal, and it was Jake Heller who came up clutch, banging in the tying goal with 1:53 left in the game.Final score, a 4-4 tie.
After a disastrous first game where nothing went right, this reporter asked Mackenzie what he told the team to get ready for the rematch.”I told them to go have fun,” he said. “It was their Halloween night, so I told them to go enjoy life and tomorrow’s gonna be a new game. Anything can happen.”
Mackenzie added that the second game “Was another eye opener for the team, but in reverse fashion. I think they proved to themselves today that they belong in Tier 2. They’re not entitled to be there, and they’re gonna have to keep proving they belong at that level game in and game out, because it’s not a given.”
All told, Mackenzie was thrilled with the team’s performance. “Everybody stepped up today, but more so everybody bought in to the team.”