PORT HAWKESBURY: The Cape Breton West Bantam AA Islanders used their Christmas holiday to claim one of the banners from the Port Hawkesbury Paper Minor Hockey Tournament.
“Some kids in that age group haven’t been in a championship game before in their short minor hockey career,” said head coach Brent MacEachern. “It meant a lot to them.”
The Islanders claimed the banner on the weekend of December 27, after battling through competitive round robin play. For the Islanders, this was their first time seeing mainland teams from Antigonish and Pictou. Indeed, Pictou proved tough in round robin.
The Islanders led all game, but Pictou scored late to tie Cape Breton West 2-2 in their round robin encounter.
The championship saw a rematch of the two squads.
“We went up early, and it was 3-1 for the better part of the game,” MacEachern said. “Pictou kept coming and coming, and then they made it 3-2. They were pressing in the third period, but we held them off.
“It was a great effort by so many of our players,” MacEachern said, noting Islanders Colin Van Zutphen, Drew MacLean, and Blake MacDonnell really turned out a great effort in the championship – and the full tourney.
“We’re hosting the Cape Breton Cup as well as provincials this year, so it’s nice to have that championship feeling going into some pretty important tournaments.”
The Islanders have been one of the teams to beat in the Cape Breton Bantam AA Hockey League this season, as they sit in second place – just behind the County Islanders. The Islanders have eight wins, two losses, and two ties in their first 12 games.
“We have some strong second-year kids, and we’re a big physical team that can score,” MacEachern said. “We’ve got two really good goaltenders, and we’re solid on defense.”