ALBERTON -- The Jacques Cartier Arena in Alberton could possibly become the permanent home of the Atlantic Midget AAA Minor Midget AAA Hockey championship trophy. The home town Western Regals defeated the Mid-Isle Matrix 4-2 Sunday in the gold medal final of what is expected to be the very last Atlantic championship tournament for that division.
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland champions were also in the five team tournament but, in the end, the gold medal game came down to another meeting between the top two Midget AAA teams in P.E.I. this year. The Regals edged the Matrix for the regular season championship and the two teams went the distance in the best-of-five playoff championship series with the Regals prevailing 4-2 in that final game, too.
On Sunday afternoon the Jacques Cartier Arena was packed to the rafters, and the two Island teams gave them their money’s worth with a fast, well-played game.
Liam O’Connor gave the Matrix the early lead, scoring from Matt Craig with 8:00 remaining in the first period. Jake Arsenault from Brendan Shea and Curklan Fraser evened the score with 1:38 left ion the period. The Regals led 3-2 after the second period and Brendan Smith scored an empty net goal with 28 seconds remaining in the game to relieve the pressure on the Island champs.
Jason Gallant, who was named the Regals player of the game, scored his team’s second and third goals, giving the Regals a 3-2 lead heading into a pressure-packed third. O’Connor was the Matrix player of the game.
With the pressure off, the emotions boiled over in the final second of the game when the Matrix took exception with a goal-month scramble. Two fight ensued and the referees declared the game finished. There was another spirited skirmish during the post-game handshake.
The Matrix took nine minors three fighting majors and five 10-minute misconducts in the game while the Regals were assessed four minors, a double minor, three fighting majors and six misconducts.
Bedford Nova Scotia Blues picked up its first win of the tournament, to go with two ties, in the bronze medal game, defeating the St. John’s NL Marshalls 6-1. Saint John Warriors finished fifth, picking up one tie in four round robin games.