Campbell River Gladiators goalie Andrew Billard squares up to stop a shot by Nanaimo’s Nate Hughes during the championship game of the Port McNeill Minor Hockey atom hockey tournament Sunday

Gladiators victors in North Island Atom tournament

The weekend started off with a late Friday night win of 15-0 win

The Campbell River Atom Gladiators, led by head coach Shawn Ericson, and assistant coaches Joe Knight and Trevor Aarts brought home gold from Port McNeill this weekend.

The weekend started off with a late Friday night win of 15-0 win for the Gladiators, that gave spectators a chance see how teamwork and great passing really pays off.  Just about everyone on the team had a chance to score a goal in this game.

Saturday morning the Gladiators continued to dominate, with a 5-1 win against Port Hardy.  The first period started with a goal from Campbell River center, Wyatt Murray.

Next Wyatt Aarts knocked it in off a beautiful assist from Landon McLeod.  The second period saw right winger Gethin Mayo rush in off a pass from Wyatt Murray to score the third goal of the game.  Port Hardy rallied back at the start of the third period, but not for long, as forward Landon MacLeod received an assist from Nathan Handyside to bring the score to 4-1.  Defenseman Nathan Handyside wrapped the game up with a 5th goal to see the Gladiators to their second win of the tournament.

Next in the Gladiators’ sights was Port Alice, who fought hard, but couldn’t hang on in a 13-3 win for the Gladiators.  The Gladiators stormed out of the gate in the first period with a series of goals by their flying forwards. Wyatt Murray  scored two goals , Wyatt Aarts hammered out  a hat-trick and Landon MacLeod tucked  two goals in the net. Matthew Sanchez opened the second period with an early goal.  This was answered back by a quick goal from Port Alice’s Dawson Twamley.   With skillful  passes from speedy forwards  Joel Idiens and Riley Kilpatrick , Wyatt Murray got one back for the Gladiators, followed by goals by Sanchez, Handyside and two more from Murray! And it was off to the Finals against Nanaimo.

The final game against Nanaimo called on thestrong skills of the Gladiator’s defensive line, as defensemen Colton Knight, Ryder Ericson, Jonus Reid, and Nathan Handyside had to bring their “A” game, as Nanaimo put up a good fight.  Thanks to the amazing work of the defense and the impenetrable Gladiator  goalie, Andrew Billard, our forwards could concentrate on the task at hand. Wyatt Murray started things up with a goal early in the first.  Nanaimo answered back with one goal scored by Nate Hughes.

Gladiators had to fight hard through the first period, but Murray sent a message with one minute left, bringing the score to 2-1. The second period saw some of the closest and most exciting action of the tournament, with the Gladiators’ Murray scoring two more goals, and Nanaimo’s Reid Scott with one, bringing the score at the end of the second to 4-2.  Nanaimo opened the third period with an early goal by Nate Hughes, answered back a minute later by a goal by Gladiator Matthew Sanchez, assisted by teammate Murray.  Wyatt Murray wrapped the game up with a final goal, as the Gladiators won gold in the 6-3 final.

Goalie Andrew Billard played an exceptional tournament and his teammates made sure he knew it as they rushed to give him pats and celebrate their win.

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