PORT HAWKESBURY: A four-goal third period resulted in the Dalbrae Dragons skating to a 5-1 win over the Inverness Rebels last Sunday evening and being handed the Highland Regional banner after the final whistle.
“We got in the room after the second, settled everything down, and we said just go back to our game – go to the net hard and play good simple D in our own end,” said Dalbrae coach Jesse MacLean. “They showed heart, energy, and we got one more banner go.
“We knew it would be tough, they have the top goaltender in the league, but we played him before and we knew there were ways to score on him. It was just a matter of getting the job done. The first two periods were frustrating at times, but the boys fought through.”
The penalty-heavy game started with Dalbrae’s Mark MacDonnell scoring from the slot on a set-up from Cullen MacEachern. That goal came with 4:06 played, and at 8:17 Invenesser James Beaton took advantage of a five-on-three to tie the score at 1-1.
After a scoreless second, Dalbrae’s Spencer Van den Hoogen (from Keegan Freimanis and Mitchell Murphy) took a backhander at the puck from the slot to manage the game winner.
Following his lead, MacEachern (from Brad Chandler), Alexander Hawley (from Freimanis and MacEachern), and Zack Meagher (Chandler). The final two goals were scored on the power play.
Cameron MacMillan was in net for Dalbrae, and Hunter Forance was manning the net for Inverness.
“Winning this, knowing you’re the top team for the region, is a big boost going to provincials,” MacLean said. “We got plans for going down there.”
The bronze medal game was also of consequence, as it decided the third team from the Cape Breton West league that would attend provincials. In that outing, the host SAERC Saints took on the CBHA/NDA Huskies.
Huskie Marcus Larade (from Jakob Deveau and Will Fraser) had the game winner midway through the third period, lifting his crew to a 2-1 final. The other Huskie goal came with 2:54 left in the first, when Deveau (from Larade) took advantage of the only power play of the game to beat SAERC goalie Zack Cameron.
Just under 90 seconds later, SAERC’s Harrison MacFadyen (from Mack Anderson) put the puck past CBHA/NDA’s Steeve Lefort.
As a result, the Huskies will be off to Division II provincials, along with Inverness and Dalbrae. That doesn’t necessarily mean SAERC is out of provincials yet, noted coach Stan MacNeil.
“Right now, we have to play a neutral ice game against a representative from another zone,” MacNeil said. “We’re supposed to meet in New Glasgow over the next two weeks to decide another representative.”
MacNeil said he was happy that SAERC was able to host four other teams over the weekend.
“It was a fun weekend, a competitive weekend, and the kids will take away memories and friendships,” he said. “We had five kids graduating this year, and I’m hoping that they take some great memories away. The hockey is secondary to the friendships and memories. You’ll forget about the game, but you’ll never forget your friends.”
Dalbrae was undefeated in five games at the tournament, and both Inverness and the Huskies were 3-2. SAERC was 1-4 and the Richmond Hurricane, kept out of the medal games, was 1-3 (though they did beat bronze medalist CBHA/NDA 7-1 in their first game of the event).