HALIFAX: The Cape Breton West Islanders and Nova Major Bantams both took part in the East Coast Ice Jam last week and weekend, getting a taste of what squads from outside their provincial leagues have to offer.
“There were some highs and lows, but they really came out to play against some big physical teams,” said Mike Stewart, bench boss of the Novas. “I was happy with that overall.”
The Novas had a good showing in the Round of 16 to Finals, where last Saturday they came inches from dropping the Wear Well Bombers. The final was 4-3 in the Bombers’ favour, after a 1-1 first period, a 2-2 second period, and 3-3 score late in the third.
Ryan Digout had two goals for the Novas, and Tyler Peddle had a goal and assist. Facing shots was Jack Milner.
“That was a game we probably should have won. We’ve had success against that team, but they came ready to play and they got the win when it counted. But, again, I was pleased overall. There were a lot of positive things that came out.
“It’s good to see where we’re at, comparable to other leagues. The thing is, when it came to the Round of 16, we lost to a team in our own league that was lower than us in the standings.”
The Novas were very good in round robin, going 3-0.
Last Wednesday, the Novas beat Eastern Express 4-3. Kenzie Cameron had two goals, and both Liam Trenholm and Rory Wood had a pair of helpers. Peddle and Cadyn Power both had a goal. In net was Jeffery Quinn.
On Thursday, Peddle had a pair of goals and managing singles were Kevin Walker (and an assist), Jacob Cook, Liam Berthiaume, Benjamin Kennedy, and Rory Wood. Trenholm had two helpers. Milner had the start.
On Friday, the Novas popped two goals in the first that the Northern Blackhawks were unable to recover from. The final was 3-2. Digout, Peddle, and Cody MacDougall all had single, and Quinn was in net.
Sarah Stewart was named to the second all star team.
For the Islanders, coach Nick MacNeil said his Major Midgets had a very successful weekend.
After a 1-2 showing in round robin, the Islanders put together a good run in Round of 16 to Finals. The Isles scored two wins before losing to the Kensington Wild 4-1. In that game, Matthew Ellis (from Darren Waterman) had the Isles’ only goal. Connors was in net.
On Saturday morning at 9 a.m., the Islanders beat the Charlottetown Pride 7-6 in a shootout. Sam Grant and Neil MacLean had three-point games (a goal and two helpers), Matthew Raike and Matthew Ellis both had a goal and assist), Lewis Taylor had two assists, and popping goals were Daniel Gillis and Daniel LeBlanc. Connors was in net.
“That was one of the craziest games I’ve been a part of,” MacNeil said. “We were down 6-3 with seven minutes left, and we came back and tied it. We ended up winning in a seven-person shootout. It was crazy.
“It was one of the highlights of the year,” he said. “It shows what kind of a team we have when we work together. There wasn’t one game we played badly, and I give the guys full marks. We’re looking forward to the next month or so.
“We played the top teams in the Maritimes, and we were right there with them.”
In an evening game on Saturday, the Islanders dropped the St. John’s Maple Leafs 6-2. The Islanders jumped ahead to a three-goal lead in the first period, with MacLean, Blake Hadley, and Dylan Chisholm all scoring. Waterman had a goal in the second, and adding two in the third were Luke Hadley and Raike. Connors was the backstop.
In round robin, the Islanders lost 7-4 to the Saint John Vitos on Friday. Scoring were Waterman, Grant, MacLean, and Raike. Connors was in net once again.
The West had two games on Thursday.
In the first, they lost 2-1 to the St. John’s Maple Leafs. Lowell MacDonald had the lone Islander goal. Kenzie MacPhail was in net for the Islanders.
On Thursday, the Fredericton Caps lost 3-2 to the Islanders. Putting the puck in the net were Waterman, MacLean, and Grant. Connors was in net.
“Connors stepped in and he played very well,” MacNeil said, noting that MacPhail was injured after that first game. “Neil MacLean played some of his best hockey; he was terrific, and if he has a good second half, he’ll get noticed.”
The Moncton Flyers won the Major Midget division, and the Moncton Hawks took top spot in the Major Bantam division.
The Islanders return to league play this weekend when hosting the Halifax McDonalds at noon in Port Hood. The Islanders also host Pictou Weeks this Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
The Novas have a pair of home games this weekend, hosting the Dartmouth Whalers at 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Antigonish Arena. On Sunday, the Novas play a home game out of the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre with the Wear Well Bombers visiting at 12:30 p.m.