It was my first year in the scouting business and Atlantic’s just so happened to be in Miramichi, New Brunswick.
My family and I made a weekend out of it.
My in laws live about thirty minutes from the Civic Center so it was ideal.
You can’t go wrong, a weekend of family and hockey.
I had started late that season with the CSR so I didn’t get to see the West Islanders until Atlantic’s.
They had an exceptional hockey club.
I had seen Jacob Hudson play a handful of games with the Wildcats so I knew what he could bring to the table, but I had never seen so many QMJHL Prospects and Draft eligible players on one team.
By the Atlantic’s every team was pretty banged up and tired.
Don’t get me wrong it was an outstanding showcase of hockey, but you could tell the tanks were getting low.
I remember sitting beside a QMJHL scout from a perennial powerhouse team. Colten Ellis was struggling fighting the puck that game and
I remember talking to the scout about Ellis, he reassured me that he could really play.
In that moment of time I had some doubts. I realized he was already drafted. By the time the Atlantic Finals rolled around there was no doubting that anymore, Ellis was spectacular.
I had watched the Moncton Flyers for the entire season and knew full well what they could do.
The championship game was a hard fought back and forth affair.
Both teams emptied their tanks.
They had nothing left. The thrill of victory and agony of defeat was on full display.
Two great teams, two special groups battling to the very end for a chance to represent the region at the famed TELUS Cup.
I will never forget the support both teams had that day, but the fans and family of the West Islanders were truly out of this world.
Both teams had so much talent and so much depth.
I had no idea that day that I would be watching the eventual national champions.
It’s hard to believe it’s been three years.
What a ride it had been for that special group from Cape Breton.
Since that time I’ve gotten to know some of the players and their families personally.
They are all special players and people.
You see all championship teams are special.
All championship teams have a bond like no other.
The 2017 Cape Breton West Islanders have a bond that truly transcends the game.
I’ve heard all the stories of how this small community rallied around their team like no other.
Hockey dreams and aspirations are shared and connect us all.
A collective community spirit and hope can lift up anyone.
The West Islanders Championship season could be written as a Hollywood script.
Champions on the ice, but more importantly champions off of it.
The former TELUS Cup champions are all leaders and character players on their respective teams.
They are all leaders in the community.
They are all hard working and share an unwavering pride and dedication to whatever they set their minds to.
You see that special group of kids share a common belief and bond that will never be broken.
That group all know that if you work hard anything is possible.
It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are, hard work and dedication will always be the greatest equalizer.
A special group of parents. A special group of players. A special group of coaches, A special group of people.
Champions forever, the 2017 Cape Breton West Islanders.