PORT HOOD: The Cape Breton West Islanders turned in a competitive first period last Saturday, stalemating the Cole Harbour Wolfpack 1-1 at the end of 20 minutes, but penalty trouble in the second frame led to the Islanders’ departure from the 2019-20 Major Midget play-offs.
“It was unfortunate, but Cole Harbour had a good team and they deserved the series,” said Islander coach Nick MacNeil, following the 6-1 final in game six.
The Wolfpack took the first round series 4-2.
“We had adversity all year. I think we only had six to eight games with a healthy lineup, and I don’t think a lot of people thought we’d last six games, especially with a couple of injuries.
“On Saturday, we got into penalty trouble in the second, but they pushed right to the last minute.”
As MacNeil indicated, it was Cole Harbour’s power play that killed the Islanders, as five of the Wolfpack’s six goals were scored on a man-advantage.
Only Cole Harbour’s Joey Merriam had an even-strength goal for the visitors, and that goal came with under a minute played in the third.
Blake Chasse had a hattrick for Cole Harbour, popping his power play goals in the second, as did Cole Foston. Cole Harbour’s Alex Carr handled scoring for his crew in the first.
Daniel LeBlanc (from Daniel Gillis) had the Islanders only goal, at 9:44 of the first frame.
All told, Islander goalie Kenzie MacPhail faced 28 shots. Cole Harbour’s Giovacchino Dimattia faced 32.
The Islanders were also hampered by the absence of Bryce Thomson, the number four scorer on the team, and Dylan Chisholm, who broke his collar bone last Wednesday in game five.
“It was tough,” the coach said of Chisholm’s injury. “That put us at five D, and Dylan’s our captain and leader, motivator. He does it all. He did a great job as captain this year.”
Last weekend, the Islanders and Cole Harbour were tied 2-2 in the series, but the game in which Chisholm was injured — a 6-2 Cole Harbour win — was the beginning of the end for the West.
Scoring for the West on a power play was Brant Timmons (from Lewis Taylor and James Beaton) and Luke Hadley (from LeBlanc and Timmons). MacPhail faced 36 shots.
The coach said the Islanders will be ready for action next season, but the team will miss retiring players Luke and Blake Hadley, LeBlanc, Gillis, Timmons and Jack Hartery.
“It wasn’t the end we wanted, but I’m proud of the way they wore the Islander jersey all the time they were there,” MacNeil said.