ANTIGONISH: It took him a little longer than some to make it to the Junior Pirates, but Antigonish’s Floyd MacDonald is happy to have finished his Junior hockey days with the maroon and white.
MacDonald, having grown up in Antigonish, arrived in Port Hawkesbury to play with the Pirates last season (2015-16). He came to the team by way of trade, as his first two seasons in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League (NSJHL) were with the Cole Harbour Colts. His final two were with the Strait.
“I was excited to come to the Pirates,” he said. “I knew some of the guys and played hockey with them with the Cape Breton West Islanders.
“It was great from the start. They opened up and let me right in.
“The guys were great to be around.”
MacDonald more than contributed to the team in his two years. He was an assistant captain this season, managing two goals and eight helpers in 24 games. Joe Praught, a long-time volunteer with the team, tipped his hat to MacDonald at the squad’s annual yearend banquet. Praught is the traditional master of ceremonies at the event.
“Floyd’s skill, toughness, and personality in the dressing room was a big positive for our team,” Praught said. “Floyd was seen honing his coaching skills at most of the Strait Pirate camps and tournaments, and as an assistant coach with the Nova Major Bantams which shows a true love for the game that we are sure he will miss — as we will him.”
As Praught mentioned, MacDonald chipped in his hockey expertise with the Antigonish-based Novas.
“I was on the ice with them pretty well every practice throughout the year, and I was on the bench with them up in Halifax for a tournament,” he said. “It was great helping them improve their skills.”
MacDonald packed a fair bit into his week, this last fall and winter. In addition to playing Junior and coaching Bantam, he was also attending the Wagmatcook branch of the Nova Scotia Community College, the Wagmatcook Learning Centre.
He’s taking electrical and intends to continue learning in the field next September, this time at Port Hawkesbury’s NSCC branch, the Strait Area Campus.
The 2016-17 Pirates had a tough time this season, finishing fourth in the NSJHL’s Sid Rowe division and edging the Cumberland County Blues out of the division’s last playoff position.
However, the Strait’s hard luck stemmed from a perpetually short bench rather than a lack of effort. MacDonald was one of the Pirates unable to complete the full season, as he was out for two months with a knee injury.
“We had a strong start and whenever we had all our guys we were pretty good,” he said. “I believe we were 3-0 right off the start, but injuries kicked in and we just didn’t have the firepower throughout the regular season.
“We made a good push for playoffs. I wouldn’t have wanted to end my last season not making the playoffs.”
MacDonald thanked the Pirate executive and coaches for giving him a place to play, and he also took his hat off to the Strait fans who came out regularly on Friday night.