Bantam Tyees ride wild game into playoffs

Campbell River's Bantam A rep team starts playoffs this weekend

The Campbell River Booster Juice Bantam A Tyees travelled to Courtenay on Sunday for an exhibition game against the Comox Valley Chiefs.

Dominik Bellefleur started in goal for the Tyees. The team kept the momentum they generated from their recent trip south-of-the-border and were able to spend most of the first period in the Chiefs’ zone.

The pressure was finally too much for Comox Valley to bear as great passing from Matthew Leard to Jaxon Ward resulted in a power-play goal for the Tyees.

Comox Valley responded with a 2-on-1 that was defended very well by Seth Parker and Bellefleur but Tyee back-checkers forgot to look behind them and a Comox Valley skater pounced on the rebound to even the score at one. Comox Valley took the lead after a “wounded fawn” play at centre-ice that trapped a defender in no-man’s land; 2-1 for Comox Valley at the end of the first period.

The second period began with the Tyees again applying pressure.  Doug Campbell kept the puck in at the point and put it on net.  Parker was cruising the high slot and buried it to knot the score at two.  The Tyees worked a set breakout play from a defensive zone face-off as Olivia Knowles got the puck to Lukas Lund who fed it forward to Will McLean.  McLean controlled the puck and took it hard to the net with speed before wiring it 5-hole; 3-2 for Tyees.

During a scramble in front of the Tyee net, Bellefleur made the save of the night, seemingly coming from out of nowhere to block the bar-down efforts of the Chiefs.  On a delayed Comox Valley penalty, Jacob Hartley put a shot on net that Damian Rennie deflected to make it 4-2 Tyees at the mid-game flood. Carson Bjorgford came in to play goal when action resumed.

Unfortunately for him, it seemed that many of the Tyees had the equivalent of a Yuletide hockey flashback with visions of more points dancing around in their heads rather than recognizing “if we don’t let them score again, we win.” Comox Valley scored twice, including one on the power-play. to tie things up at four at the end of the second period.

Early into the third period the Tyees again penned Comox Valley in their own end with fatigue and frustration taking its toll.  With a delayed penalty looming, McLean got the puck to Lund and he fired it into the back of the onion bag. Comox Valley came right back on the face-off from centre-ice and tied the score at five.

The Tyees kept working hard, forechecking relentlessly. Liam Rivett kept the puck in at the point then it bounced off sticks and shin-pads before Lund was able to control it.  He took it strong to the net and snapped a wrist shot that beat the Comox Valley goalie cleanly; 6-5 Tyees.  The chiefs quickly tied it, then took the lead on a power-play.  The Tyees went on another power-play and Lund completed his natural hat-trick to tie the score at seven.  With less than 10 seconds remaining in the game, McLean scored but the goal was disallowed as the net was knocked out of position. Final score was 7-7 tie.

The Tyees begin their round-robin playoff run hosting Nanaimo at Rod Brind’Amour Arena on Saturday, Feb. 1 (6:15 p.m.) and Oceanside on Sunday, Feb. 2 (1:00 p.m.) before travelling to Powell River on Feb. 8.