ANTIGONISH: The Cape Breton West Islanders will be heading to British Columbia for the Telus Cup later this month, but later this week the guys will be the centre of attention in Antigonish.
“There’s excitement from Pleasant Bay to Arisaig and all points in-between,” said team president Brian MacInnis, who is looking forward to the send-off rally taking place tomorrow (April 20) from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Antigonish Arena.
“Everywhere you go, people are excited and proud.”
The event is open to anyone looking to offer encouragement to the Islanders before they leave Stanfield International Airport on Saturday, April 22. The Telus Cup begins four days later Prince George, B.C.
The event will be a great opportunity to congratulate the squad on winning Atlantics, the Nova Scotia title, the NSMMHL regular season championship, and/or the East Coast Ice Jam.
“It’s been a fantastic year,” MacInnis said. “We won our first two games of the season, and we just kept moving along. The team’s been steadily improving. The Ice Jam win was a big confidence builder for sure. It had all the teams from Atlantic Canada there, and winning that really gave the boys a big lift.
“It was the first time we won the league, and that was a great performance. They really played hard every game, and it was the same at the Atlantics. It was a great achievement for everyone involved.”
The Islanders will be practicing from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and fans are welcome to watch. A shoot-out will take place at 6:30 p.m. The players will be available for autographs and pictures, during the rally. They will be officially introduced, and dignitaries will be offering best wishes to the team.
Younger fans are encouraged to wear their minor hockey jerseys, and older fans are encourages to wear the colours of their favourite pro team.
Those attending the event will have the chance to sign a banner the guys are taking with them to nationals. There will also be a donation box set-up, and any individuals or businesses looking to chip in are welcome to do so.
For those not attending the rally but who still want to pitch in, team treasurer Len Tobey can be contacted at 902-787-2666 or visited at the Ceilidh Co-op.
“The whole team is extremely thankful for the support we’ve received from all through the Cape Breton West coverage area,” MacInnis said.
The Islanders will be one of six regional championship teams appearing at the nationals. A brief review of the other teams is offered below.
The Cariboo Cougars
The Cariboo Cougars come to the Telus Cup as the British Columbia Major Midget League Champs, finishing their regular season with seven consecutive wins and setting a franchise record for wins in the regular season (34). They also set franchise records for most goals scored (214) and fewest goals allowed (75) in a season.
The Regina Pat Canadians
Playing out of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, the Pat Canadians are the West Region champs. They are also a five-time national champion. Regina managed a regular season record of 36-6 in regulation time, while losing two and winning one in overtime. The squad had 193 goals for and 81 goals against. In playoffs, they went 9-2.
The Mississauga Rebels
Representing the Central Region is the Mississauga Rebels of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. The Rebels finished the regular season with a respectable 19-7-7 record, but only managed to take third in the standings. They had a goals-for average of 3.15 and a goals-against average of 1.64.
The Leduc Oil Kings
Representing the Pacific Region is Alberta Midget Hockey League champs, the Leduc Oil Kings. The Oil Kings prove that a standout regular season isn’t always needed for clutch performance, as the Oil Kings finished just under .500 in the regular season (14-15-5) while managing a season total of 94 goals and allowing 103. The squad was third in their league.
The Blizzard Du Séminaire Saint-François
The Blizzard is representing the Quebec Region following a season in the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League. The team finished first in the regular season and led the league in power play (25.3 percent) and penalty kill (87.9 percent), were second in goals scored (170), and third in goals against (106).