PORT HOOD: Despite showing the Valley Wildcats a thing or two about Cape Breton West pride in the first round of the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League (NSMMHL) play-offs, the Islanders were unable to surprise the Cole Harbour Wolfpack in round two.
“It was tough to lose three straight, but Cole Harbour is a good team,” said Nick MacNeil, coach of the local Major Midgets. “We had a great first round, and it was a great boost for our team to get past the Valley.
“In the regular season, Cole Harbour only had two losses in regulation time. We knew we were in tough.”
The Wolfpack took the third and deciding game of their best-of-five series last Friday night. The final was 5-0.
Kenzie MacPhail stopped 35 of 40 Wolfpack shots. Two of the goals he allowed were on a man-advantage, and both came from the efforts of Cole Vardy. Vardy had a hat trick, and his teammates Gavin Watt and Brady Hunter also put the puck in the net.
Joe Chambers faced 20 shots for Cole Harbour.
The first and second games took place on the weekend of March 16, with Cole Harbour winning two on home ice: 6-1 on Saturday and 4-1 on Sunday.
As a result, Cole Harbour and the Halifax McDonalds will go head-to-head for the league championship.
The Islanders are looking back on an eventful year. The local squad was the second youngest squad in the league.
“We were a young team, and winning a play-off round should go a long way for some of these kids. I’m hoping they’ll be just as hungry at training camp this summer as they were at last summer’s training camp.”
Having goalie Kenzie MacPhail backstop Team Nova Scotia at the Canada Winter Games was a highlight of the season, as it speaks to the level of talent being cultivated in the Cape Breton West program.
“He was playing well for us all season, and he just kept getting better and better,” the coach said. “He was a first-year player in the league, and he kept us in some games this year.”