PORT HOOD: The Cape Breton West Islanders started their game last night by honouring the volunteer firefighters of Inverness, Judique, Mabou, and Port Hood. They also honoured their fans by putting together a solid 60-minute effort to drop the visiting Pictou Weeks Midgets 4-1.
“We’ve been playing good hockey for the last while — I’d say for at least the last month,” said Islander Coach Nick MacNeil. “The big thing is that they’ve playing like a team. We’re getting contributions from everyone, top to bottom, and we’ll need that down the stretch.
“We did a great job on the PK last night. Our kills were great, and that’s what it’s going to take to do well in playoffs. Not just guys who are putting numbers up, but guys who are good in the D-zone and strong on special teams will be huge.”
The Islanders are now on an 11-day dry spell, in terms of hockey. The guys don’t play this weekend, and won’t return to action until Saturday (February 2) when visiting the metro area for games against Cole Harbour and Halifax.
All told, the Islanders have only four regular season games left. They end the regular season with a pair of home games (February 7 and 10). After that, due to Canada Games, the provincial Major Midget league has a bit of a delay before playoffs, which begin on March 2.
Last night, there was no delay in Islander offense. The guys outshot Pictou 22-9 in the first period and, by the end of the game, the West led the shot count 53-27.
Captain Darren Waterman (from Dave Matthews and Sam Grant) got the Islanders on the board in the first frame, and the second period saw Daniel Gillis (from Matthew Raike and Ben MacLean) put the score at 2-0.
The West popped two more goals in the third, with Luke Gould (from Raike and Gillis) and Lowell MacDonald (from Luke Hadley and Blake Hadley) both beating Pictou keeper Ben Gibbon to make the score 4-0. Islander backstop Kenzie MacPhail allowed a power play goal from Pictou’s Jacob Melanson with 3:04 left on the clock.
With a record of 14-16-2 and 30 points, the Islanders sit in fifth place overall. That means the guys are still in striking distance of both the third place Valley Wildcats (17-11-1, 35 points) and the fourth place Dartmouth’s Steele Subaru Major Midgets (16-10-0-2, 34 points).
Of course, with only four games left for the Islanders, the clock is ticking. With that, both the Valley and Dartmouth have games in hand.
In addition to the hockey action, last Tuesday’s game saw the Islanders show their appreciation of local volunteer firefighters. Several members of the local departments took part in an opening faceoff.
“It’s great that we can show our support for them because they do a great job,” said Coach MacNeil. “They’re all volunteers, and we want to let them know they’re appreciated with our team and the people in the area.”