Mark’s Work Wearhouse Islanders win P.E.I. major midget championship
Story published in The Guardian on March 22.
“We are pretty excited,” said Islanders head coach Jeff MacDonald.
The Islanders completed the regular season last in the six-team New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League at 9-23-3, six points behind the fourth-place Wild.
“We struggled this year out of the gate and we had a lot of adversity, but to see our guys stay the course, be down in the series twice (1-0 and 2-1) and still win it on home ice, it’s pretty special,” said MacDonald.
Both teams will participate in the Atlantic championship in Kensington from April 2 to 5. “It’s every team’s goal to win the provincials,” said MacDonald. “We are happy we did it, and in saying that we know we are in for a very tough tournament in two weeks time.”
Sunday at MacLauchlan Arena, the Islanders led 2-0 after one period on goals by Shawn Corney and Alex Hambly, but Max Morrison and Cole Hackett answered back for the Wild in the second period.
Blake Jamieson and Jonathan Arsenault scored in the first half of the third period to give Charlottetown a 4-2 lead. Logan Toole’s goal at 15:03 set the stage for a nail-biting finish, and the Islanders survived a late Kensington two-man power play.
“We did a good job of keeping their shots to the outside,” MacDonald said. “Your goaltender has to be your best penalty killer, and he was definitely our best penalty killer.”
Charlottetown rookie goaltender Noah Laybolt stopped 16 of 17 shots in the final 20 minutes to preserve the win. Laybolt finished with 39 saves as the Wild held a 42-24 shots-on-goal advantage.
Laybolt was named the series most valuable player, stopping 116 shots in his three starts.
“We knew Noah Laybolt was a good goaltender, and he just needed some time to get used to this level,” said MacDonald. “Going away to the Canada Games really helped his confidence.
“He got his opportunity to play (in Game 4), he shone, and is one of the reasons we are champions.”
A turning point for the Islanders was a 14-6 loss in Game 3.
“For us that was our rallying point,” said MacDonald. “We knew it was going to be a close series, and we knew Kensington was not that much better than us.
“It was an opportunity to look in the mirror, and it was gut-check time for us. I was really happy with the way our guys bounced back.”