Midget Tyees set torrid pace

The Strathcona Toyota Midget Tyees continued in torrid late season form this past weekend with a pair of wins Saturday against Oceanside in Parksville and Sunday against Tri Port at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.

On Saturday, Oceanside started the game with an aggressive forecheck, quickly broken down by Campbell River’s patient defense, anchored by Doug Campbell and Liam Rivett, but with emergent efforts from Bryce Nahri and Clinton Nelson.

The Tyees opened the scoring on an incisive breakout pass from Rivett to Seth Parker creating a 2-1 with the rapid transition, finished nicely by Jaxon Ward, one-timing Parkers’ cross-ice pass.

Oceanside had their defense pinching up in the neutral zone, with the Tyees victims of several open ice hits early in the game. That quickly changed as Campbell River created odd man rushes with excellent puck support and passing.

The Tyees dominated possession, but were forced to play shorthanded frequently, with the officials taking a unique and creative approach: great for an art exhibition, less so for hockey. After giving up a power play goal against, the Tyees responded on their own man-advantage, with Lukas Lund filling at the point for Rivett, drawing his man before sliding the puck to Nelson who found Jacob Hartley alone with a beautiful diagonal pass, Hartley finishing clinically. Garrett Lee and Lund formed a dynamic short-handed duo, and Lund put the Tyees up for good on a dominant penalty kill, inevitably burying his third scoring chance of a single shift, assisted by Rivett. Nelson finished a strong game with a goal off his own rebound, set up by Hartley: 4-2 Tyees, in a game that should have been 8-2, tempered by excellent Parksville goaltending. Dominik Bellefleur was tested less frequently, but was spectacular at times.

Sunday’s game in Campbell River saw Tri Port’s fast, disciplined Eagles try to duplicate an upset against the Tyees in Port Hardy, getting a bit of help from a breakdown in home-team discipline.

The game saw the Tyees outshoot the Eagles 48-16, but Tri Port led after the first 1-0.  Early in the second Lukas Lund was assessed a misconduct, sitting the next 13 minutes, waiting for a play stoppage after his 10 minute sentence for “discussion.” He was back for the third, somewhat motivated, and Lund tied the game a minute into the third, on a brilliant cross-crease pass from captain Owen Boyd with Nelson picking up the second assist. Then, after Tri Port scored following a neutral zone Tyee turn-over, one of a series, Boyd and Rivet set up Lund to take the lead again.

After a second Eagle goal, Campbell River went ahead for good midway in the third on a 5 on 3, with Campbell and Nahri setting up Lund again for the hat-trick. Lund would score once more, short-handed, to make it four, the goal unassisted though the Tyees penalty kill collectively choked away the Eagle’s possession: 4-2 Tyees. Ben Regier had a strong 2 way game for the Tyees.

Errors continue to plague Campbell River, but while the coaching team will want the boys to tighten up and work on their system it is always a positive when a team can feel free to be creative, can play without fear of mistakes, and every player can feel like they have a role and a right to contribute. That being said, playoffs loom.

The Midget Tyees will host Oceanside on Jan. 28 at 4 p.m. and Comox Valley on Jan. 29 at 2:30 p.m. to begin Island League Playoffs.