PORT HOOD: The Valley Wildcats weren’t able to make much of an impact on Saturday night, when visiting the Al MacInnis Sports Centre, but on Sunday they proved the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League is a place where no squad can be counted out.
The Wildcats are no pushover, but they came to Cape Breton West Islander country just below .500, sitting in fifth place in the provincial league. The third place Islanders have been in striking distance of first place Halifax and second place Dartmouth since the start of the season. With that, the Islanders are fresh off a gold medal showing at the East Coast Ice Jam.
The Wildcats were, therefore, the underdog.
The Islanders were dominant on Saturday, managing a 6-1 win. The following day, the Valley overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime and then pull a 5-4 upset.
On Saturday, the Islanders were leading 3-0 in the first before Wildcat Robert Dowell was able to beat Islander goalie Ewan MacDonald, who wasn’t overly busy. He faced 22 shots. At the other end of the ice, Jonathan Pickrem contended with 44 shots.
Managing a big game for the Islanders were Jack Morris, with two goals and an assist; Stephen Fox, three assists; Sean Stewart and Ben MacLellan, a goal and assist each; and Fearghus MacDonald, two helpers. Neil MacLean and Draper MacLean had a goal each. Helping out with assists were Chase Ellis, Calum MacPherson, Matthew Raike, and Luke Hadley.
The Sunday game saw the Islanders leading 4-2 at the end of 40 minutes, thanks to a hat trick from Fox (who scored two goals on the powerplay and also had a helper) and a goal from Morris (who managed two assists). Also contributing were Fearghus MacDonald and Stewart (two assists each) and Ellis (an assist).
However, the third period saw both Wildcat Colby Ramsey and Dowell beat Islander backstop Ryan Miller, who faced 32 shots. In the first period, Dowell and Sam Henderson also put the puck in the net for the visitors.
A tripping call against Ellis in overtime opened the door for Wildcat Gregor Yoell to find the go-ahead goal.
Valley goalie Liam Oxner was one busy man, as he faced 52 shots.
The weekend leaves the Islanders at 22-6-1-0, six points behind Dartmouth’s Steele Subaru Major Midgets. However, the Islanders have three games in hand on both Dartmouth and the first-place Halifax McDonalds.
One of those games is on Wednesday, January 31, when Pictou’s Weeks Major Midgets comes to the Al MacInnis Sports Centre for a 7:30 p.m. start. On February 1, the Cape Breton Tradesmen will come to Port Hood for a 7 p.m. start.