Photo by Grant McDaniel Municipal officials were part of the crowd gathering at the Antigonish Arena last Thursday night to show support for the Cape Breton West Islanders who are now competing at the Telus Cup, a showcase of the top six Major Midget teams in all Canada. Inverness County Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie was wearing Islander colours, and Antigonish Town Councillor Mary Farrell was all smiles.

STRAIT AREA: This edition of  The Reporter  hit newsstands on the morning of April 26 and, by now, the Cape Breton West Islanders have already played two games at the Telus Cup.

  The first one was against the Blizzard Du Séminaire Saint-François on Monday and second was against the Leduc Oil Kings on Tuesday.

  The Reporter  staff has been doing its best to post results from those games to our Website ( porthawkesburyreporter.com ) as quickly as possible, and that trend will continue with the remaining games.

  The Islanders have a late game tonight (April 26), as the guys face the Cariboo Cougars at 7:30 p.m. PDT (which translates to 11:30 a.m. here in the Atlantic time zone).

  Tomorrow (April 27) the Islanders will take to the ice against the Mississauga Rebels, with the puck dropping at 8 p.m. (AST). On Friday, the Islanders will be on the ice at 2 p.m. (AST) against the Regina Pat Canadians.

  Semi-finals will take place Saturday, and the medal games are on Sunday.

  The gold medal game will be broadcast on TSN. The rest of the games will be live-streamed on  hockeycanada.ca. 

  Last Thursday, the Islanders were the centre of attention at the Antigonish Arena, as a send-off rally was held for the team. Former Islander coaches and players, executive members, hockey stars like NHLer Craig MacDonald, sponsors, family members, municipal leaders, and hundreds of fans were in attendance.

  “To go from 150 Major Midget teams across the country to one of the top six, you players should be very proud,” said coach Kyle MacDonald, addressing his players at the event. “You should be very proud of what you accomplished so far. I have a feeling the best is yet to come for this group.

  “I think our team is one of the best in the country, and we can beat any one of those teams at nationals.”

  The Islanders and their fans were also given an opportunity to hear from former Islander coach Sean Donovan, who was a former captain of the StFX X-Men. He’s now an assistant coach with the two-time defending AUS champion X-Men.

  “You’ve earned a tremendous opportunity to go out there and compete for a national title,” he said to the players. “I wish you nothing but the best.”

  Also speaking was former Islander Regan Spears, who went on to play Junior A in Pictou and then join the X-Men. He said the best years of his life were those he spent with the Islanders.

  Craig MacDonald, former NHLer from the Antigonish area, offered some comments to the Islanders as well.

  “Go and work as hard as you can,” he said. “Everyone is proud of you, and you should be proud of yourselves.”

  Offering the perspective of minor hockey associations was Martin McLaren, president of Antigonish Minor Hockey.

  “I want to congratulate you on behalf of all the minor hockey associations you started your career with,” he said. “Best of luck in B.C.”

  Also speaking at the event were representatives from the local municipalities, some of whom signed on as funding partners for the Islanders’ trip west.

  Betty Ann MacQuarrie, Warden of Inverness County, brought greetings from her council members. She also mentioned that she was asked to bring greetings from Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton and her council staff.

  “Our council whole-heartedly made a contribution to the team for travel expenses in the amount of $2,500,” she said. “It’s our way of thanking you for representing us so well.”

  She mentioned that Port Hawkesbury Council was sending along a contribution of $500.

  Antigonish Town Council was also represented at the event, with Mayor Laurie Boucher and councillor Mary Farrell attending.

  Also speaking at the event was Mike Hart, of  Ron MacGillvary Chevolet, Buick, GMC.  He was representing the corporate sponsors.