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The Cape Breton West Islanders celebrate after winning the 2017 Telus Cup national midget hockey championship on Sunday in Prince George, B.C. The Islanders edged the Saint-François Blizzard of Quebec 5-4 in overtime.
©Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images
SYDNEY, N.S. — The little team that could from Cape Breton has done it.
The Cape Breton West Islanders erased a two-goal deficit to defeat the Saint-François Blizzard of Quebec 5-4 in overtime in the final of the 2017 Telus Cup national midget championship Sunday in Prince George, B.C.
With the win, the Islanders became the first Atlantic champion to ever win the tournament.
“What a moment. I’m speechless,” said Islanders captain Jacob Hudson of Pleasant Valley, Antigonish County. He was named tournament MVP. “It’s just a crazy moment in my life and I’m proud to share it with these hard-working guys on my team.”
It didn’t look good early for the national champs. They entered the dressing room after the first period trailing 4-2, after a pair of Blizzard goals from Samuel Dickner, and singles by Yan-Cédric Gaudreault and Vincent Guy on the power play. Hudson and Stephen Fox replied for the Islanders.
Cape Breton West got their legs in the second period, but despite some chances, couldn’t get any closer to tying the game.
In the third, Fox struck again with a snipe over the glove of Blizzard goaltender Philippe Gaudreault. With just under six minutes to go, Logan Chisholm poked home a loose puck to force overtime.
Chisholm completed the comeback in the extra frame, firing a shot through a crowd that went off Gaudreault’s glove and in the net.
Then, the celebration was on for the Islanders and their fans that made the trek across the country to see their team play.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Chisholm of Upper Pomquet, N.S. “Emotions were high and it just ended up being me. It could have been anyone in the room. I guess I just got lucky tonight.”
Islanders’ goaltender Colten Ellis of River Denys made 43 saves in the win. Gaudreault stopped 23 pucks in the loss.
“As a coach, I’m very proud,” said Islanders head coach Kyle MacDonald. “You just want to see the guys do well all year. To make that type of history is just remarkable and you probably need more time to reflect on it to really understand what we’ve done.
“Right now, we’re just enjoying it. It’s incredible.”
The Islanders advanced to the final with a 2-1 win over the Central champion Mississauga Rebels on Saturday. Cape Breton West finished the round robin with a 2-3 record, just reaching the playoff round. The Rebels bested the West champion Regina Pat Canadians 4-1 for bronze.
Along with Hudson’s award, Dylan Macdonald of the Islanders won the Esso Scholarship Award for academic excellence and community contribution.
It was an historic season all around for Cape Breton West. Along with their national title, the team won both the Nova Scotia Eastlink Major Midget Hockey League and Atlantic championships for the first time.
The Islanders became only the second Cape Breton team to ever medal at the tournament. The Cape Breton Colonels took home a bronze medal from the 1982 event when it was known as the Air Canada Cup.
Friday, the club was treated to a team meal paid for by Islanders’ alumnus Andrew MacDonald of the Philadelphia Flyers. The team received plenty of praise on social media following Sunday’s win, including a shoutout from Port Hood native and Hockey Hall of Famer Al MacInnis.
“@CBWestIslanders DID WE EXPECT ANYTHING LESS ? #Now we're done. Congrats boys , you made us all proud. #wethewest,” he tweeted.
Road to the final
Monday, April 24
Islanders 2, Quebec 1
Tuesday, April 25
Islanders 4, Pacific 1
Wednesday, April 26
Host 4, Islanders 3
Thursday, April 27
Central 1, Islanders 0
Friday, April 28
West 5, Islanders 2
Saturday, April 29
Quebec 4, West 3 (OT)
Islanders 2, Central 1
Sunday, April 30
Bronze: Central 4, West 1
Gold: Islanders 5, Quebec 4 (OT)
Top Atlantic finishers:
2017: Cape Breton West, gold
2016: Saint John Vito’s, silver
2010: St. John’s Fog Devils, bronze
2003: St. John’s Maple Leafs, bronze
2002: Dartmouth Subways, silver
1992: Dartmouth Kings, bronze
1982: Cape Breton Colonels, bronze
1981: Antigonish Novas, bronze
On Twitter: @cbpost_sports