PORT HOOD: After a hockey season that saw the guys score a provincial championship, an Atlantic championship, and a national championship, the Cape Breton West Islanders continue to be the focal point of celebrations throughout the area.
“It’s a pleasure to be able to host the guys and congratulate them on their hard work,” said Liberal candidate for Inverness Bobby Morris at the Al MacInnis Sports Centre on Thursday of last week. Morris was accompanied by Premier Stephen McNeil.
The two men were hosting an event to offer their congratulations to the Telus Cup winners.
“This was home ice for me for a lot of years,” Morris said. “My dad, Joe Morris, dedicated a fair bit of time to the reconstruction of the rink here, and Brian [MacInnis] was a big supporter of that. What the rink gave to me was life skills, and working now I carry those traits with me every day.
“Thanks for representing us so well,” he said.
Premier McNeil also offered remarks to the team, congratulating the players not only for their on-ice results but also for the classiness they showed off-ice. He was told by many that the Islanders were the classiest team at the Major Midget national championship.
“You were adopted by that community, and that speaks volumes as to who you are as people, it speaks volumes about your communities, and I want to say on behalf of all Nova Scotians how proud I am,” he said. “You did something no other Atlantic Canadian team has done.”
The Premier said he doubts anyone on the team will forget how it felt to pull the trigger against Quebec, whom the Islanders dropped 5-4 in overtime in the championship game. He said their families and communities won’t soon forget their pride over how the team competed.
“You are the best [Midget] team in Canada,” he said. “You are Telus Cup champions, but what’s most impressive is that I ran into a couple of minor hockey coaches who said their young kids watch you play hockey and look up to you.
“They aspire to be like you on the ice, and they look up to you off the ice.”
McNeil also thanked the coaches for all the effort they gave in forming the championship team, as well as team president Brian MacInnis, the executive, and the community.
While the team received a tip of the hat on Thursday, four of the team members were given thumbs up from their school. Dalbrae Academy was the school in question, and the players were Liam MacKinnon, Colten Ellis, Keenan Gillis, and Malcolm MacEachern.
After being trucked into the school’s parking lot by two engines from the Mabou and District Volunteer Fire Department, the four players were greeted by the entire student body and staff on the grounds outside the main entrance.
Once inside, the students and staff assembled inside the Strathspey Performing Arts Centre. The four players were presented an honorary banner from the school.
“I’m sure most of the people here today watched you and were rooting for you the whole time,” said John Hensbee, the teacher serving as master of ceremonies. “Job well done, guys.”
The celebrations continue tonight (Wednesday, May 17) at the Port Hastings Fire Hall at 7 p.m. This time around, Stephen Fox will be the man at the centre of things. Fox was the MVP of the Telus Cup championship game.