Tough weekend for Novas

PORT HAWKESBURY: Despite a three-goal third period, the Nova Major Bantams were unable to pull the trigger against the Dartmouth Whalers (2-10-1-1), the second-last place team in the provincial Major Bantam league. The game took place last Sunday at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, and the final was 5-4.

The Novas fared no better on Saturday, when hosting the number-one team in the league, the Gulls (11-1) of St. Margaret’s Bay. The final was 8-1 at the Antigonish Arena.

The weekend leaves the Islanders at 3-8-1 (overtime loss), good for tenth place in the 12-team league.

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“Every team in the league is tough to play against,” said coach Mike Stewart. “If you don’t show up to play for the first two periods like we did [on Sunday], any team can beat you on any given day. But I was happy with our third period. It was unfortunate to lose after clawing our way back to tying it.

“The lesson learned is that you have to come ready to play from the opening faceoff right to the final whistle.”

Stewart said this season is one where the coaching staff has to put emphases on developing skills, and he added that the team seems to be progressing nicely. By the end of the season, he said the Novas ought to provide a competitive game for any squad.

“On Saturday, we held the top scorer in the league to no points, even though it was an 8-1 loss,” he said. “There are some positives, and we have to learn lessons on a weekly basis. If we can do that, we should be okay coming up to Christmas.

“The trick is for the kids to realize what their potential is and to play at that level.”

On Saturday, Liam Berthiaume (unassisted) had the Novas’ only goal late in the second. The squad had a tough time generating offense, as they had only nine shots all game. Nova goalie Kenzie MacPhail got a good workout, as he faced 56 shots.

On Sunday, Brandon Connors backstopped the Novas and faced 30 pucks. The Nova offense sent 22 shots in the direction of James Lawley.

“For the most part, I’m pretty happy with the goaltending,” Stewart said. “We’ve been putting our goaltenders into some tough situations, and I have to say they’ve been pretty good.

“They’re getting there. It’s the breakdowns and the lack of consistency right now that’s hurting us.”

The Whalers managed a 2-0 lead in the first, thanks to a couple of goals from Ryan Farrow and Noah Comeau. The Whalers scored again in the second, thanks to Wyatt McInnis, and in the third, with Comeau connecting for his second of the game.

Dartmouth’s Alex Roode had the overtime winner.

For the Novas, Trey Struge led scoring with a goal in the second and third, and he also assisted on teammate Landyn Pitts’ goal in the third. Pitts had a goal and assist.

Brody McLaren had a third period goal for the Novas, and garnering single assists were Lowell MacDonald, Charles LeBlanc, Zachary Stewart, Keir Jordan, and Brent O’Handley.

Next Saturday, the Novas host the Joneljim Cougars (4-8) at the Antigonish Arena at 5 p.m. On Sunday, the Novas visit the Truro Bearcats (9-0-3, overtime losses).