Islanders wait as U18 league takes a pause

PORT HOOD: The Islanders remain busy even as the Nova Scotia U18 Hockey League observes a break mandated by new public health restrictions.

The Cape Breton West U18 Islanders were scheduled to host Cole Harbour last Saturday and Sunday at the Al MacInnis Sports Centre in Port Hood, but those games were cancelled.

Head coach Nick MacNeil said games slated for the next two weeks are on hold.

“We’re taking it day-by-day,” the coach said. “We’re lucky enough that we can practice, that’s a good thing. We’re getting on the ice five days a week and practicing through the week, then the weekend we’re making fun; we’re doing some agility tests, skills tests, endurance off-ice tests; we’re doing some different things like three-on-three and four-on-four games. We’re trying to keep it entertaining and fun for the kids.”

Public health restrictions announced by the provincial government on November 26 mandated that no hockey teams within Halifax Regional Municipality were allowed to travel and no teams outside the HRM are permitted to travel to the Central Zone. This came after Nova Scotia recorded 37 new cases last week, and community spread was confirmed around the HRM.

Hockey Nova Scotia decided the restrictions will continue for two weeks until midnight December 9, with the possibility of an extension.

“My gut feeling is we’ll probably fall under something like the Pirates where we probably start-up in the new year but things could change,” MacNeil noted.

If the league resumes later this month, MacNeil hopes they will play Sydney and Pictou before the holidays.

In the meantime, players who reside in a health zone and play hockey for a team based in that same health zone will be allowed to continue participating in Hockey Nova Scotia-sanctioned activities within that health zone. For example, a team from the Strait Richmond Minor Hockey Association would be permitted to play against a team from the Antigonish Minor Hockey Association or Cape Breton County Minor Hockey Association since all are within the Eastern Zone.

“Until the league holds their next meeting, we won’t know too much so we’re taking it day-by-day and making sure that if we get the call that we’re playing, we’ll be ready for them,” MacNeil added.