After having dropped the Pictou Weeks Midgets in four games of their best-of-five, second-round series, the Cape Breton West Islanders are limbering up to challenge Dartmouth’s Steele Subaru Major Midgets for the provincial banner.
“It comes so quickly,” said Islander coach Kyle MacDonald, talking to The Reporter Sunday morning. “We just finished a very emotional series with Pictou, and now we’re starting at home on Tuesday. We’ll be ready for them.”
As the Islanders were finishing off the Weeks, Dartmouth was tangling with the Halifax McDonalds. That series ended on Friday in a nail-biter of a 1-0 double overtime finish. Like the Islander/Weeks series, Dartmouth won the series in four games.
Halifax won the first game 3-2 (on March 11), but Dartmouth rallied back to win the next three (5-4 on March 12, 4-3 on March 15, and 1-0 last Friday).
In terms of the Islanders’ path to the championship, the series started with an 8-1 Islander win on March 11 and a 4-3 Weeks win on March 12. Game three took place last Friday night and was a 9-0 win for the Islanders. On Saturday, the series ended with the Islanders pulling a 6-3 win.
“Each and every game was tough, even if the score didn’t always show it,” the coach said. “But they were tough games, and our guys learned a lot from that series. We should be well-prepared for the finals.”
The second game – a game in which Pictou tied the series – didn’t affect the Islanders’ confidence, MacDonald said. He added that his crew doubted they’d sail through playoffs with a perfect record.
Game three saw the Islanders rebound and take no prisoners.
Managing a helper on five goals was Ryan MacLellan, and both Jacob Hudson and Malcolm MacEachern had a pair of goals. Keenan Gillis, Calum MacPherson, and Logan Timmons all had a goal and assist, and Jack Morris and Jacob Stewart had two assists each. Avery Warner and Spencer Barron also scored. Craig Ryan and Dylan MacDonald had helpers.
Colten Ellis faced a respectable 29 shots for the shutout, and the Islanders sent 39 pucks the way of Pictou’s Alexander MacDonald and Andrew MacLeod.
“We were hard to play against,” MacDonald said.
On Saturday, the Islanders set the tone with a pair of unanswered goals in the first period thanks to Fearghus MacDonald (from Warner and Dylan MacDonald) and Jacob Stewart (from Fearghus MacDonald and MacEachern).
Pictou tied the score at 2-2 in the second, but Stephen Fox (from Timmons and Warner) gave the Islanders their second lead of the game with 3:08 remaining in the frame. MacLellan (from Logan Chisholm and Sean Stewart) had the game winner with 1:16 remaining. Both goals were on the power play.
The third period saw Pictou make it 4-3 before Jacob Stewart (from MacPherson and MacEachern) and Hudson (from Ryan and MacEachern) put the game out of reach. The Hudson goal was on a man-advantage on an empty net.
Ellis faces 24 shots for the Islanders, and MacDonald faced 47 for Pictou.
The first game in the Islander/Dartmouth series takes place on Tuesday, March 21 at 7 p.m. and the second is on Wednesday, March 22, at 7 p.m. Both are at the Al MacInnis Sports Centre.
Games three and four (if needed) are in Dartmouth this Friday and Saturday night, with game five (if needed) taking place this Sunday in Port Hood at 6 p.m.