PORT McNEILL—The North Island Eagles peewees may have had a few misfires on the opening week of the season. But they were running smoothly on all cylinders Saturday in an 8-2 romp over Nanaimo B to wrap up the five-game placement-round schedule.
Mathew Saunders snapped a 1-1 tie late in the first period and Payton Laming notched a hat trick as the Eagles picked up momentum the rest of the way.
“The first half of the game was pretty good,” head coach Marty Gage said. “After the break, the team persevered. Laming had a heck of a game. Every puck off his stick seemed to find the back of the net.”
Brayden Walkus, Avory Collins, Ryan Patterson and Rhys Dutcyvich also scored for the Eagles, while Kayden Jones grabbed the win in net.
The victory, the Peewees’ third straight, left the team with a 3-2 tiering record after starting with a pair of road losses. Gage hopes the team will be placed in Division 3 to play the regular season with most of its Tier 3 rivals in preparation for the playoffs next February and March.
In the meantime, though, the peewees will face a stern challenge this week in a Thanksgiving tournament in Powell River, where they’re scheduled to play the host club, the Oceanside team that handed the peewees an 11-5 loss earlier in placement play, and Sooke.
“It will be important for us to challenge ourselves against Tier 2 teams in exhibition games and tournaments,” Gage said. “This weekend will be a good test for us. We’ve been handed a tough card.”
Walkus, Dutcyvich, Saunders, Patterson, Chelsea Noel, Luke Gage and Joey Grant each had assists Saturday as the Eagles used four straight goals in the first and second periods to push in front 5-1. After Nanaimo got a second goal on a point-blank one-timer the dribbled over the line after Jones made the initial stop, the peewees closed out the game with three more scores over the final 11 minutes to win going away.