If there is a perfect hockey score, it might be 4-3. Just enough offence to entertain fans while not giving coaches fits for too many goals allowed.
The Cape Breton West (CBW) Islanders major midget hockey team found themselves on the right side of that score for both of their games in the HRM, over the Nov. 4-5 weekend.
In their first game Saturday evening, at Cole Harbour Place versus the Wolfpack, team and league scoring leader Stephen Fox produced a hat-trick in leading CBW to the road victory.
Matthew Ellis scored the Islanders other goal and chipping in with assists were veterans Fearghus MacDonald, Calum MacPherson and Sean Stewart, with two each, with Matthew Raike and goaltender Ryan Miller each earning one helper.
More important for rookie netminder Miller was the 42 Wolfpack shots he turned aside to record the victory.
The following afternoon at Scotiabank Place, a third-period comeback saw the Islanders defeat the Halifax McDonald’s 4-3.
MacPherson scored twice while adding an assist in the win, with MacDonald scoring once and recording two assists and Fox registering one goal and one helper.
Picking up single assists for CBW were Graham MacDonald, Chase Ellis, Neil MacLean and Stewart.
Veteran Ewan MacDonald earned the win in goal with a 30 save effort.
“A great learning experience for our team, again, this weekend,” Islanders head coach Kyle MacDonald said. “We’re down two players, so we’re a little short and everyone, definitely, played a role in our wins.
“Guys who might have played a lesser role, in a full line-up, really stepped up for us and gave us those opportunities to win on the weekend, so it was nice to see.”
The head coach talked about his team overcoming two late second period goals to the McDonald’s, which could have been very demoralizing.
“That’s really what you like to see from your team when they face a bit of adversity,” he said.
“It’s much easier to go the other way, to get cranky at one another and get down on one another, but our guys stuck together and battled back … definitely a very positive sign.
“A resiliency which is something we had last year, right up until that final game (a comeback overtime victory to win the Telus Cup), so it’s a good feeling, as a coach, to see our group respond that way. In a league as tough as ours, we’re going to see that each and every game, where you could get into those situations. It was a real testament to our leadership group this year.”
With wins, the Islanders maintained their hold on third place in the league with a 12-4 record. They sit a single point behind Halifax and three behind league-leading Steele Subaru (Dartmouth).
The Valley Wildcats are just a point behind CBW as the top four teams in the league have pulled away, a little bit, from the bottom four in what is still a very tight Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League points race.
“It’s great; it’s so close,” MacDonald said.
“All eight teams are right there. The win against Cole Harbour was great and then Sunday we felt it was a great opportunity to move up in the standings and beat a top team like Halifax, going head-to-head against them. That’s the only way we’re going to move up and our guys accomplished that.”
Noting both goaltenders turned in solid performances on the weekend to earn wins, the head coach was asked about his tandem.
“We’re very happy with both our goaltenders,” he said.
“Ewan did an outstanding job on Sunday, he made some really big saves for us. And on Saturday, Ryan bounced back from a loss to Dartmouth to have an excellent start … a great response to that game.
“Both our goaltenders are giving us a chance to win every night and that’s all we ask from them.”
CBW played homes games versus the Cape Breton Tradesmen and Pictou County Weeks Nov. 9 and 11, respectively, with results unavailable at press time.
They’re back at home in Port Hood Nov .25 and 26 where they’ll host Halifax. Saturday’s game is a 6 p.m. puck drop while Sunday’s action gets underway at noon.