LOUISDALE: High school hockey action was a rare treat this season, but the pucks were flying last weekend at the Richmond Arena thanks to the efforts of the Richmond Hurricane, coach Robert MacDonald, and all those pitching in to make the second annual Rock Ya Like a Hurricane tournament a reality.
“It was a great weekend for high school hockey,” said Coach MacDonald. “We had great crowds all weekend. Parents, teachers, and everyone else came together to do our best for the high school teams and bring a little spirit back.
“It was a rough year for everybody, but we wanted to make sure the Grade 12 players had a good final go. We’re really pleased with everything.”
Due to contract negotiations between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the provincial government, teachers across the province were kept from coaching sports teams as a result of the work-to-rule standards set out by the union. That meant the Cape Breton West High School Hockey League was out of commission for the lion’s share of the season. The teams were able to get a few games in before work-to-rule was put into effect, but not many.
MacDonald said it was great to see so many people come out to support the teams over the weekend. It was also great to see the high school players wearing their school jerseys.
“It was a little more difficult than usual to organize it, but everyone came together for the things that are important,” he said. “Every game was competitive, and the final was awesome. I can’t say thanks enough to everybody who supported these teams.”
The championship game – which was played in front of several hundred fans – was a Route 19 finish as the Inverness Rebels took to the ice against the Dalbrae Dragons. With the score rarely giving either team more than a one-goal advantage, the squads battled hard for three periods with Dalbrae finally pulling away in the final frame.
With the Dragons up 5-4 with 2:17 left in the third, an interference call sent Dragon Mark MacDonnell to the box and gave the Rebels a chance to find the tying goal. However, it was the Dragons who capitalized with Matt Ellis (unassisted) bolting down the left wing to catch the glove-hand corner just nine seconds after the penalty was called. It was Ellis’ second goal of the game.
Colby MacLean added an empty netter with 1:05 left to play, making the championship a 7-4 final.
Also scoring for Dalbrae were Alexander Hawley, Ben VanZutphen, Olan Spears, and Keegan Freimanis. Replying for Inverness were Cody Hinkley with a pair, Ali Delaney, and Devon Whitty.
“It was a battle, and we knew it’d be a battle coming into it,” said Keegan Marcott, who coaches the Dragons with Jesse MacLean. “They beat us in the round robin, but the boys fought back. I’ve never seen a group with so much heart and determination. The boys were here and ready to go.”
Dragon captain Olan Spears said it was great to play high school hockey again, and it was even better to once again play a championship against the Rebels, a squad with whom the Dragons have always had a rivalry.
“The boys came out with a lot of momentum,” he said. “We were coming off two big wins in a row, and we were ready to work. They have a lot of good players, and it was great to be playing against them.”
Spears said he appreciates the efforts put into organizing the tournament. It’s a feeling shared by all the players, without question.
“Props to Rob MacDonald for putting it on,” he said. “There was no better way to finish the year.”