PORT HOOD: The Cape Breton West Islanders closed out their regular season last Sunday when hosting the Cape Breton Tradesmen – along with dozens and dozens of minor hockey players during a Minor Hockey Appreciation Day.
“I think the kids had a blast with it, and it’s probably something we should do annually,” said Nick MacNeil, Islander coach.
In addition to Appreciation Day, the Islanders had a pregame ceremony for graduating players and the players who have both won league awards and, in the case of goalie Kenzie MacPhail, earned a place on the Canada Games team.
“It was nice to give a little credit to those guys,” MacNeil said. “They’ve put a lot of hard work into this organization, and it was very good to see.”
Sunday’s game saw the Cape Breton Tradesmen come out flying to lock down a 3-1 win. The score was 1-1 after the end of the first frame, as Neil MacLean (from Sam Grant and Darren Waterman) connected on a five-on-three power play with 2:52 left in the period.
That point shot was the only goal the Islanders managed, despite outshooting the Tradesmen 33-27. MacPhail was in net, stopping 25 of 27 shots. The Tradesmen also scored on an empty net.
As a result, the Islanders finish the season at 15-19-2.
The Islanders will be starting play-offs on March 2, and their first round opponent will be the Valley Wildcats.
“They have lots of depth, but we faired off against them pretty well this year,” MacNeil said. “We beat them a couple times, and they beat us a couple of times. I have a good feeling, but we’ll need a solid effort every night to beat them.”