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Royals skate to Millennium Cup crown

Matthew MacEachern of the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals makes a save through heavy traffic during a 7-5 round-robin victory over the Memorial Marauders during the 2019 Millennium Cup at the Antigonish Arena. Corey LeBlanc
Matthew MacEachern of the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals makes a save through heavy traffic during a 7-5 round-robin victory over the Memorial Marauders during the 2019 Millennium Cup at the Antigonish Arena. Corey LeBlanc - Corey LeBlanc

Boys’ hockey team to host East Hants Dec. 11

ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

ANTIGONISH - Improving – every day – is the focus for the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals boys’ hockey team.    

“We don’t really set goals, other than playing together and getting better each game,” head coach Steve Ryan said.    

He reflected on the season, thus far, a couple days after the team captured their annual home tournament – the 2019 Millennium Cup.    

“We are at our best when everyone is pulling in the same direction,” Ryan said.      

He noted the importance of the Royals “playing tough in our end.”    

Success in that area leads to offensive opportunities.    

“We want to play fast – both defensively and offensively,” Ryan said.    

He noted the Royals will take advantage of what opponents give them; if they provide room to skate, they will carry the puck into the offensive zone, while the dump-in and then fore-check is the focus, when teams stand up at the blue line.    

“We have a great group of kids,” Ryan said of the team, which features six Grade 12 players.    

There are three Grade 10s and one Grade 9, while the bulk of the roster – eight players – is made up of Grade 11 students.    

“We have a nice balance, which is also great for the future of the program,” Ryan said.    

He also praised his assistant coaches – Floyd MacDonald, Jack MacQuarrie and Pete Leuschner.    

“They are young and knowledgeable,” Ryan said, adding the trio “loves working with and teaching the players.”

Home cooking    

As for the recent Millennium Cup victory, the Royals secured the crown with a 5-2 victory over the rival CEC Cougars Nov. 23 at the Antigonish Arena.    

“It was probably our best and most complete game of the year,” Ryan said.    

He added the entire roster contributed to the victory, noting that was “nice to see.”    

Seth Mattie, Phoenix Lydon-Ryan, Kaber MacNeil, Liam Statchook and Duncan Chisholm scored for the winners.    

The Royals opened the tournament Nov. 21 with a 7-5 win over the Memorial Marauders.    

Mattie, with a pair, MacNeil, Brody McLaren, John Boyd, Ben MacLellan and Graham MacDonald scored, while Matthew MacEachern recorded the goaltending victory.      

The next day (Nov. 22) the Regional improved to 2-0 with a 5-2 victory over the Millwood Knights.    

Craig Landry, Alexander MacDonald, Graham MacDonald, Chisholm and MacLellan tallied, while MacEachern earned his second tournament win between the pipes.    

Later in the day, the Royals wrapped up round-robin action with a 5-3 victory over the Dalbrae Dragons.    

Nelson Leuschner, Mattie, MacNeil, Boyd and MacLellan scored, while Donovan Walker recorded the goaltending victory.    

In semi-final action Nov. 23, the Royals bested the Marauders 5-3.    

Alexander MacDonald, Chisholm, McLaren, MacLellan and Leuschner scored, while Walker captured another goaltending win.    

“In general, we played OK,” Ryan said, when asked about the Royals’ overall performance.    

The team featured a balanced offensive attack, with 10 forwards and three defenseman scoring goals.    

“We want to continue to have those consistent contributions,” Ryan said.    

He added there were a “few learning experiences,” while posting a 5-0 record in the two-day home tournament.    

“We found ways to win when we were not at our best,” Ryan said.    

The Royals will be back on home ice at the Antigonish Arena Wednesday, Dec. 11, when they host the Hants East Tigers in Northern Nova Scotia High School Hockey League action.  

Puck drop is set for 6:30 p.m. 

THE ROSTER (Grade level indicated)

Goalies:

Matthew MacEachern (12)

Donovan Walker (11)

Defense:

Ben MacLellan (12)

Kaber MacNeil (11)

Parker MacEachern (11)

Graham MacDonald (12)

Jaden Nash (11)

Zack Stewart (11)

Forwards:

Alexander MacDonald (11)

Duncan Chisholm (12)

Liam Statchook (10)

Brett MacLellan (9)

Seth Mattie (12)

Phoenix Lydon-Ryan (10)

Brody McLaren (11)

Nelson Leuschner (11)

Craig Landry (12)

John Boyd (10)

Coaches:

Steve Ryan (head)

Floyd MacDonald (assistant)

Jack MacQuarrie (assistant)

Pete Leuschner (assistant)

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