It was a bit of an up and down rollercoaster ride of a weekend for the North Island Midget Eagles.
The Eagles officially kicked off the start of their season with two tiering games at home against the Tier 3 Alberni Valley Bulldogs and the Tier 2 Nanaimo Clippers.
The first game was against the Bulldogs on Saturday at the Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill, and the first period started out well for the Eagles, with forward Clayton Bono converting at 9:33 off a feed from linemates Carson Strang and Benton Browne.
However, the game would ultimately go off the hinges midway through the second period.
The Eagles found themselves in penalty trouble early and often and it cost them dearly as the Bulldogs capitalized with the man advantage each and every time, racking up goal after goal to take a blowout 6-1 win back to the valley.
The Eagles regrouped and chose not to let the bad game effect them. Coaches Marty Gage and Doug Grant led the team to the ice the next day with their heads held high, ready to go to war with the Clippers at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena in Port Hardy.
Browne would open the scoring for the Eagles at 12:29, assists going to Bono and Payton Laming, but the Clippers’ Colson Newton would respond back with a goal of his own at 11:59.
The game was back and forth from that point on with scoring chances at each end of the ice, but it was Strang who stole the puck and skated in and roofed it top shelf with 49 seconds left to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
In the second period, the Clippers started to mount a comeback. Talon Backmann scored at 15:06 to tie it up, and then Liam Hanley added another goal to make it 3-2 for the Clippers.
That was when Browne and his linemates decided to take over.
Browne netted his second of the game at 13:45, and then Bono added two goals of his own at 9:17 and 2:33 to make it 5-3 for the Eagles.
The third period was more of the same. Browne scored back to back goals at 18:22 and 12:39, and Strang picked up his second with 2:36 left on the clock to make it 8-3.
The Clippers would get one more late goal from Backmann, but it was too little too late.
The buzzer rang and the Eagles finished off their weekend with an 8-4 victory.
All told, the Eagles looked like a strong team with speed, aggression and guts.
Goaltender Michael Perez came through for the team on Sunday with some great saves, Laming was a physical force to be reckoned with from the blueline, and Browne looks poised and ready to take over the goal scoring crown from last year’s midget Eagles’ captain Tanner Roberts, who notched 40 goals in 40 games.