The Panago Midget ‘A’ Tyees, undefeated in three exhibition games, started their tiering round this past weekend with a Saturday matinee in Nanaimo versus the Clippers.
True to early season form, the game featured stellar goaltending and some high end offensive flash from the Tyees and ended in a Tyee win.
Campbell River broke the home team shutout 59 seconds in when Jake McKenzie took a clever loft pass from Tyler Dickson, and drove the zone with speed before beating the stunned Nanaimo goalie with a quick wrist shot. Nanaimo would even the score later in the first, beating Nic Kirchner with a point shot through traffic. Coming on a bit after being pinned in their zone for long periods of time by the line of McKenzie, Dickson and Travis Goodwin, Nanaimo had a chance to take the lead near the end of the first period, but was stymied by two remarkable cross-crease saves by the Tyee goalie.
The Tyees would score three in the second period, started by Goodwin, who took a perfect cross ice pass on a 2 on 1 from McKenzie. Campbell River then put the game away, with Gage Crawford forcing a puck up the wall to a streaking Luke Lund. As another 2 on 1 developed, Lund laid a deft saucer pass over to the stick of Kalem Penner, who finished with a chip. The frame closed with Jake McKenzie tipping in a power play point blast from Darian Swift.
In the third, after one more dazzling glove save by Kirchner on a 2 on 1, the Tyees finished the scoring when team captain Tyson Goebel stole the puck in the neutral zone and fired a snap shot past the Nanaimo keeper: 5-1 Tyees final.
The Clippers created zone control by overloading in the Tyees end, but at the cost of odd-man breaks against. They generated neutral zone speed with break-out passes from their defense, but while Campbell River was caught backing in at times, giving up shots through screens, the Tyee defense ultimately prevented cross-ice movement and allowed Kirchner keeper to stifle Nanaimo.
The Tyee forwards took full advantage of turn–overs, and finished with skill that Nanaimo could not match. The Tyees will look to the coming weekend and a pair of home games at Rod Brind’Amour Arena (3:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday) to hone their early season form.