PORT HOOD: The Cape Breton West U18 Islanders sit one point out of second place as they prepare for a pair of games this weekend.
On Friday night at the Pictou County Wellness Centre, the Islanders lost 4-3 to the Kohltech Valley Wildcats in what MacNeil called their worst game of the year.
Lowell MacDonald scored on the power play in the second period, then Cape Breton West made things interesting with goals from Marcus Larade and Ray MacKinnon in the third.
“We took them too lightly. I’m not sure if we looked at the standings where they’re at. It just seemed like we weren’t ready to go right off the hop. Maybe that’s a little on the coaches, if anything,” head coach Nick MacNeil said. “We were chasing the game from behind. Preparation for the starts of a couple of periods weren’t very good. It won’t happen again. We have to learn from it, then move on and be better.”
The next day in Pictou County, the Islanders beat the Weeks Majors 4-3 with goals from James Beaton, Rory Wood, Cody Van de Sande, and Liam Trenholm.
Later on Saturday, Cape Breton West lost 3-2 to Steele Subaru as Lowell MacDonald and Bryce Thomson both tallied up a man, making it four power play goals on the weekend.
The coach refused to blame the loss on fatigue from playing two games in one day.
“The other team was in the same boat; they had two games as well,” MacNeil said. “They are kids, they still have lots of energy. We have to manage the ice time a little more, shorter shift, but the guys did well to play that second game.”
Currently, James Beaton is tied for the league lead in points with 17, while Sam Beaton is in seventh with 13, Jacob Cook has 11 points, and Cody Van de Sande has 10 points.
“Things are good and our two goalies, Adam Tkacz and Jack Milner, I believe they’re in the top five or top six for goaltending,” the coach noted. “They’re doing exceptionally well. There’s certainly a lot of positive from the first 11 games we’ve played.”
The Islanders currently have a 6-4-1 record, to give them 13 points, good enough for fourth overall in the league.
“It’s a very impressive team for far,” MacNeil said. “We do have 11 new faces this year so there’s a learning curve and some ups and downs. But we’re very confident in our team, every time we step on the ice against another team. We’re going to get better each week. That’s our plan.”
This weekend, Cape Breton West will host the Cole Harbour Pro Hockey Life Wolfpack on Saturday at 6 p.m., then on Sunday at 12 p.m. at the Al MacInnis Sports Centre in Port Hood.
“We’ve played the majority of our games on the road so we’re looking forward to getting some home games in – it’s going to be good,” MacNeil added.