Grand Bay-Westfield – At this year’s annual Day of Champions the Grand Manan atom C Islanders defeated the first place team to return home from Grand Bay-Westfield with the coveted banner.
The Islanders defeated the Kennebecasis Valley Red Wings 4-1 in the Atlantic division.
McKinley Green scored two for the Islanders, while Kaven Guthrie and Rowan Miller each added one.
Tied 1-1 after the first period, coach Noah Rayner said his team played “really well” in the first frame, and encouraged his players to keep working hard.
“(The Red Wings) had our number all year long. We were playing really well in the first period, and I just told them to keep up what they were doing, and they did,” Rayner said, and added before the game, a few of the players were nervous, but the majority was “rearing to go”.
The Islanders finished the regular season in second place with a 9-4-2 record; just one point behind the Red Wings with a record of 9-3-3.
Rayner said the squad had a shaky start to the season, but noted the team was able to turn their luck around.
“They kicked into a whole other gear. After the rough start, we had a chat a couple times, and after that, they really seemed like they wanted to win.”
For 19-year-old Rayner, in his second year of coaching, the trip to Grand Bay-Westfield for Day of Champions was a blast from the past.
Six years prior, Rayner, then playing for the peewee Islanders, won Day of Champions with his team.
“It was amazing,” Rayner said of returning to the rink. “I felt very excited when I first got there; I knew that we could do something like when I did with my team six years ago.”
Rayner sang praises for his team, saying the group has come strides since the beginning of the season – and to end the season with a banner made those accomplishments all that much sweeter.
“We only had 12 skaters and only six of those skaters were in their first year of playing an actual game. Our goalie, it’s his first year putting pads and skates on. The entire team, they’ve all really come together and play as hard as they can.”