PORT HOOD: Counting the Cape Breton West Islanders out is a very silly thing to do.
“The motto of the team going into playoffs was ‘will over skill,’” said Islander assistant coach Kyle Gillis, just moments after his team tied their first round series with the Cole Harbour Wolfpacks at 2-2 last Sunday.
“We knew they had us outmatched as far as fire power goes, and when we went through the numbers before the series, it didn’t look great. But this isn’t a math test, and the numbers really don’t mean anything.”
The best-of-seven series began on the weekend of February 8 in Cole Harbour, with the two squads splitting wins. Game three took place last Saturday, and it wasn’t a great evening for fans in Port Hood.
A three-goal second period helped Cole Harbour cement a 6-1 win. Only Lewis Taylor (from James Beaton and Liam Trenholm) was able to score for the Islanders, and that goal came at the end of the second, after the Wolfpack rallied to a 4-0 lead. Kenzie Beaton was in net for the Islanders.
The West outshot the Wolfpack 27-24.
Game four took place on Sunday, and Beaton proved to be the man of the afternoon. He popped three goals and managed an assist en route to a 6-2 Islander win.
“He’s been huge, and saying ‘huge’ is an understatement,” Coach Gillis said.
The Islanders took advantage of a power play at 9:11 of the first, with Daniel Gillis (from Beaton and Jacob Cook) getting the locals on the scoreboard. It was one of four man-advantages the Islanders had in the first 20 minutes.
Goalie Kenzie Beaton was between the pipes once again, and the first 20 minutes were rough ones for him. At 10:27, Cole Harbour’s Carter Murchison was charged with goaltender interference for plowing him, and minutes after that, a Cole Harbour player tripped him behind the play but received no call.
In the second, on a power play of their own, Cole Harbour’s Cole Foston beat Beaton to tie the game at 5:46.
At 9:17 and 11:08, James Beaton worked his magic for the Islanders. He broke in and dented mesh with the assistance of Cadyn Power and Daniel LeBlanc the first time and, the second time, went top shelf while falling. Dylan Chisholm had the assist.
After the scoring, Islander Cody Van de Sande was called for roughing, but the West’s penalty kill kept Cole Harbour shutdown.
“The killers might not get the glory you get if you’re on the score sheet all the time, but they’re doing a wicked job for us,” Gillis said.
In the third, Wolfpack player Ryan Welsh made it a 3-2 game at 3:22, but Trenholm (from Cook and Van de Sande) used a slap shot from the high slot to put the Islanders up by two goals.
Penalty trouble for the Wolfpack led to the remainder of the West’s scoring, with Beaton (from Cook and Taylor) drilling a shot that found its way through a screen to make it 5-2. At 11:27, Taylor (from Cook and Daniel Gillis) finished a scoring opportunity to put the game well out of reach.
Shots were 36-35 for the Wolfpack.
Game five takes place Wednesday (February 19) at Cole Harbour Place at 7:15 p.m. Game six will take place in Port Hood this Saturday at 4:30 p.m.