Prince George, B.C.
ISLANDERS HOLD ON TO EDGE REBELS, ADVANCE TO TELUS CUP FINAL
JASON LA ROSE
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – Jacob Stewart got the winner five minutes into the third period, and the Cape Breton West Islanders held off a furious push from the Mississauga Rebels to earn a 2-1 win Saturday night and book a spot in the gold medal game at the 2017 TELUS Cup.
The Islanders are the third Atlantic team to ever reach the final, and the second in as many years; the 2002 Dartmouth Subways – a team that included a 14-year-old Sidney Crosby – and the 2016 Saint John Vito’s both settled for silver.
They will face the Blizzard du Séminaire Saint-François for Canada’s National Midget Championship on Sunday afternoon (6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT on TSN 1/3/4/5).
Cape Breton West dropped its last three preliminary-round games and needed help from Mississauga on Friday to reach the semifinals, before knocking off the Rebels.
The teams traded chances in a scoreless first period, and it took until the 13:44 mark for either team to find the back of the net.
A turnover in the Mississauga zone started a counterattack the other way, and the Rebels worked the puck around on the three-on-two before Nathan Smilsky went five-hole on Cape Breton West goaltender Colten Ellis to finally open the scoring.
The Islanders didn’t waste any time pulling even; 98 seconds later, a point shot from Ryan McLellan sat in the crease for Malcolm MacEachern, who poked the puck past Rebels netminder Christian Purboo to tie the game.
The Maritimers took the lead for good 5:23 into the third period on the power play. Jacob Stewart broke down the left wing and threw a shot on net that found the five-hole on Purboo to make it 2-1.
The last 14 minutes were a blur of Mississauga shot attempts and Cape Breton West blocks; Islanders threw their bodies at the puck every chance they got, holding the Rebels to just eight shots in the final frame.
Mississauga, which became the third-straight No. 1 seed to lose in the semifinals, will meet the Regina Pat Canadians in the bronze medal game on Sunday morning (11 a.m. PT).