Cape Breton West Islanders first Nova Scotia hockey team to win national midget title
Islanders lineup made up of players from small rural communities
The Cape Breton West Islanders won the national midget hockey championship Sunday, becoming the first Nova Scotia team to take the title.
The Islanders completed a come-from-behind-win when Logan Chisholm scored in overtime to give his team a 5-4 win over Quebec champions Saint-Francois Blizzard in the gold medal game of the Telus Cup in Prince George, B.C.
Chisholm also scored the tying goal in the third period to force overtime. Stephen Fox scored twice for the Islanders earlier in the game, with tournament MVP Jacob Hudson adding the other.
"It feels incredible, I'm pretty much speechless," said Hudson, the Islanders team captain, who grew up playing all his minor hockey in his hometown of Antigonish. "We started out as strangers at tryouts but we evolved and now were just family."
"We're just so proud of this group and it's not just the players," said Hockey Nova Scotia executive director Darren Cossar. "It's the coaches, the volunteers, the parents, all of their sacrifices and commitments over the years [have] culminated in a really special moment for hockey in Nova Scotia."
Twitter lit up following the game with congratulatory posts.
Congratulation to the Cape Breton West Islanders on winning the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TelusCup?src=hash">#TelusCup</a> !!! Holy wow... Blown away! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BestINCanada?src=hash">#BestINCanada</a>—@Frazztastic
Among those impressed with the victory was Al MacInnis, the retired NHL star who grew up in Port Hood.
<a href="https://twitter.com/CBWestIslanders">@CBWestIslanders</a> DID WE EXPECT ANYTHING LESS ? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Now?src=hash">#Now</a> we're done. Congrats boys , you made us all proud. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/wethewest?src=hash">#wethewest</a> <a href="https://t.co/528h4qeEzs">https://t.co/528h4qeEzs</a>—@AMacInnis2
Hockey Nova Scotia was also quick to show how it felt about the team.
WHAT A NIGHT! WHAT A MOMENT! THE <a href="https://twitter.com/CBWestIslanders">@CBWESTISLANDERS</a> ARE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS IN CANADIAN MIDGET HOCKEY! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nsproud?src=hash">#nsproud</a> <a href="https://t.co/vP0MBAYv3C">pic.twitter.com/vP0MBAYv3C</a>—@HockeyNS
It's the first time a Nova Scotia team has won the championship. The next best showing was in 2002, when the Dartmouth Subways won silver with Sidney Crosby in their lineup.
Almost missed playoff round
After winning the Nova Scotia and Atlantic titles, the Islanders got off to a fast start at the Telus Cup tournament with two straight wins. But they lost their next three games and barely made it into the playoff round.
However, in the semi-final game the Islanders won a thrilling 2-1 contest over the Mississauga Rebels, the top team in the round robin.
That set the stage for the dramatic tournament final against the Quebec champions, a team that has won the Telus Cup four times.
Islanders goaltender Colten Ellis of River Denys faced 47 shots and stopped the 22 shots he faced in the third period. In overtime he made a great glove save on a breakaway to rob a Quebec player of a goal.
"All of the stuff that we did all year as a group and it finally paid off," said Hudson. "It's an honour to be the first Atlantic team to ever win it, it's an incredible feeling."
The Islanders are based out of Port Hood, Inverness County. Five of their players are from the Town of Antigonish.
The rest are from small communities like Mulgrave, Country Harbour and Sherbrooke in Guysborough County. They also have players from Judique, Chéticamp and Margaree Forks in Inverness County.
"It really proves that it doesn't matter where you come from or how big your town is," said Islanders team president Brian MacInnis. "If you work hard and you have a dream, you can make it come true."
Wow - Cape Breton West Islanders - such an Accomplishment -—@thehockeyprof
With files from The Canadian Press