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HOT CORNER: Prince County hockey teams enjoying fantastic year

['Joe MacIntyre']
['Joe MacIntyre']

MacDougall wins another national U Sports men's hockey championship with UNB

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

It has been a fantastic year for Prince County hockey teams in P.E.I. leagues.
Without doubt, the results show just how strong teams are from this end of the Island.
The Tignish Aces won the Razzy’s P.E.I. Junior C Hockey League championship this past week, and quite likely the Western Red Wings, or the Kensington Vipers, will be champions in the Island Junior Hockey League.
The Kensington Wild won the Island title at the major midget level, and the Alberton-based Western Regals are champions of the P.E.I. Midget AAA Hockey League.
The midget AA league has yet to hold its provincials, but the top four teams in the eight-team league are Tignish, Summerside, Evangeline and Gulf Storm. There is a very good chance that one of the four will be Island champs as well.
The Western Wind girls’ programs have been, and continue to be, very strong. Both the bantam and midget AAA teams recently won provincial championships.
That is five provincial championships – and counting – for Prince County teams. Congratulations goes out to all.
Good luck to those teams that will represent P.E.I. at upcoming Atlantic championships.

Gardiner MacDougall
Gardiner MacDougall has done an amazing job with the UNB Reds in the 19 years he has been in charge of the hockey program at the Fredericton, N.B., university.
The Reds won their seventh Canadian title  last weekend with MacDougall in charge. When one considers it was their 11th final appearance in his 19 years, it truly is amazing what he has been able to accomplish.
I talked with MacDougall a couple of years ago, and asked him what he does that UPEI does not do?
He went on to say that UNB has been fortunate with recruiting good talent and so on. He did not say one thing about UPEI, and it was all about what the Reds do. 
It was not the answer I was looking for, but it was the right answer coming from a well-spoken veteran coach, who was quick to pick up the frustration I showed with my question.
When asked what his secret to success was after winning No. 7 last Sunday, MacDougall pointed out that he recruits high character players, and that is obvious. The Reds seemed so in control and confident in that championship win against the top-ranked Alberta Golden Bears, and that confidence instilled comes from MacDougall and his fine coaching staff that includes former Summerside Western Capital and Kinkora native Charlie Cameron.
MacDougall is one heck of a coach and manager, and continues to make Prince Edward Islanders proud of his accomplishments.
The nationals are in Halifax next year, and bets are that the UNB Reds will be there.
UPEI has never played in a national final since it all started in 1963, but their predecessors, Saint Dunstan's Saints, lost to the Manitoba Bisons in the 1965 Canadian final in Winnipeg.

Congratulations Roy
I know I join with many in congratulating Clinton's Roy Paynter on winning four medals, including two gold, at the recently-completed 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu, Dhabi.
The son of Brian and Sarah Paynter won gold in the 100-metre breaststroke and 200-metre freestyle. He won silver in the 4x50-metre relay, and bronze in the 100-metre backstroke. It was a great accomplishment for Paynter, his coaches, family and supporters.
We have another world-champion athlete from P.E.I., and his name is Roy Paynter. That has a nice ring to it.
Being only 21, we can be sure we will hear a lot more about Paynter in the years ahead. 

Junior B hockey
The Kensington Vipers have their hands full with the Sherwood-Parkdale Metros in the best-of-seven Island Junior Hockey League semifinal series. A 5-4 overtime win by each team on the road has peaked fan interest in this series as the teams head for that all important Game 3 in Kensington on Sunday. Start time at Credit Union Centre is 7 p.m., and fans may want to get their early for what should be a great hockey game.
There appears to be very little difference in these two teams, but Kensington does host the Don Johnson Memorial Cup Atlantic junior B hockey championship next month, and will want to host as Island champions – not a team eliminated in the first round. The other series has gone as expected with the Western Red Wings up 3-0 on the Eastern Maniacs going into Friday night’s Game 4 in Souris.  The Wings have outscored the Maniacs 23-3 through the first three games, and this series is all but over.

NHL
There are just two weeks left in the NHL regular season, with playoff positioning very much up in the air in both conferences. A couple of statement games in each conference this past week has one thinking that Tampa Bay and Vegas may meet in the Stanley Cup Final.
Tampa beat the defending Stanley Cup-champion Washington Capitals twice this past week, and its overall team depth looks better than any team. The Boston Bruins may be in their way, but the Lightning is looking really good at this point, winning 20 of their last 22 games.
The Vegas Golden Knights have found their game, going 9-1 in their last 10 games, and they also had a couple of statement wins this past week. Most would say that San Jose and Winnipeg would be two teams that stand in the Knights’ way, but Vegas beat the Sharks 7-3 in San Jose and Winnipeg 5-0 at home. Both wins came with back-up goalie Malcom Subban tending goal.
The Knights look great and with the playoffs just over two weeks away, it could not come at a better time. 
Have a great week!

Joe MacIntyre is a local life insurance broker. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to joemacintyre18@gmail.com.

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