ALBERTON -- The co-chairs of the Atlantic Minor Midget AAA Hockey Championship in Alberton have declared the four-day event a success, and not just because the host team emerged as tournament champions.
The Western Regals doubled the Mid-Isle Matrix 4-2 in an all-P.E.I. final Sunday at the Jacques Cartier Arena. This makes it the sixth time in as many years that a P.E.I. team has won the championship. It will also be the last time an Island team – or any other team - achieves that feat: The Western Regals have hosted the very last Midget AAA championship. “This was the last year of a four-year rotation and a couple of provinces indicated last year they were not renewing their commitment,” explained co-chair Rhonda MacNeill prior to the championship final.
“Everybody’s been really pleased with the facilities and at the Rodd. With the way the tournament’s been running, there’s been no complaints, not that we know of. The hospitality room has been a humongous hit,” she reported.
“Probably 75 per cent of West Prince must have made something – cooked something or baked something - for the hospitality room, and the Town of Alberton should be very pleased, because we’ve earned the name, The Heart of West Prince,” she continued.
McNeill suggested the storm just prior to the tournament added to the adventure for the participating teams. Most of the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia team members were stranded in New Brunswick for part of the day on Thursday, waiting for winds to diminish so that the Confederation Bricge could re-open. The tournament start time and the schedule for the first two days of the tournament had to be retweaked and the mainland teams ended up playing their opening game in Tignish Thursday night to help get the schedule back on track.
McNeill said all teams were consulted and involved in the decision-making process in the re-working of the schedule and she had praise for event coordinator Rob Newson and Hockey P.E.I. for the scheduling expertise. “They handled it like pros; it was done so smoothly. All the teams were consulted along the way, the managers and the coaches, she said. “There were no surprises.”
The tournament’s other co-chair, Brett Corcoran, was doing double duty during the tournament, also serving as coach of the P.E.I. champions, the host Western Regals. “I think all the teams had a successful tournament. They all came and worked hard and our fellows worked extra hard, I feel,” Corcoran said. He admitted hearing some disappointment that this will be the last Atlantic tournament but said that’s out of his hands.
“It went really well,” Corcoran said. “I think all the teams had a good time while they were here, once the weather started to cooperate.”
Attendance was good all weekend, including Thursday night when many West Prince fans were still digging out from the worst storm of the winter.
McNeill said the arena was packed for the Regals’ game on Saturday and was two-thirds full for the final round robin game. She predicted fans would be hanging from the rafters for the championship, and if there had been hand grips on the rafters her prediction surely would have been on the mark.
The tournament also featured a Saturday night banquet at the host hotel, the Rodd Mill River Resort. It attracted 233 players, coaches, parents and organizers.