By John DeCoste
It took a few extra days to decide, but the Northeast Kings Titans are once again the winners of the Art Lightfoot Memorial boys’ high school hockey tournament.
NKEC defeated the CEC Cougars from Truro 5-3 in the tournament final, played Feb. 6 in Kentville. The final was unable to happen as originally scheduled on Feb. 3, due to the weather, and had to be rescheduled.
The Titans opened the scoring in the first period on a power play goal by Dylan Troop. Patrick McNutt got CEC on the board with a goal late in the first period.
The teams then traded second period goals, with McNutt scoring his second of the game for the Cougars and Dylan Dauphinee replying for NKEC.
The Titans then scored twice early in the third period to take the lead for good. Tim Longley made it 3-2 and Jordan Martin netted the eventual game-winner.
McNutt finished off the hat trick for CEC to narrow the gap to 4-3, but NKEC’s Brett Atwater, the tournament’s leading scorer, rounded out the scoring.
NKEC won the tournament, held in memory of long-time VHSHL supporter Art Lightfoot, for a third straight year and the fifth time since it was first held in 2005.
The Titans had reached the final with a 4-3 overtime victory over Barrington, with Atwater scoring the winning goal. CEC had qualified with a 5-4 double overtime win over Avon View, with Matt Laing netting the OT winner.
The round robin got underway on Jan. 31, and all the games over first three days of the tournament went ahead as scheduled.
In the two games Jan. 31, NKEC doubled Central Kings 6-3 and Digby topped Bridgewater 11-2.
The first game Feb. 1 saw Digby back on the ice against Barrington, a game that ended in a 4-4 tie. CEC then blanked Bridgewater 4-0, and Barrington doubled Horton 4-2.
That evening, Avon View edged Northumberland 4-3, after which the opening ceremonies were held with Art Lightfoot’s widow, Gail, and members of her family taking part in a ceremonial faceoff.
NKEC and Horton then met in a clash of local rivals, with the Titans scoring a 3-0 victory. In the final game of the evening, Bernice MacNaughton from Moncton handled Bridgewater 10-1
The final seven round robin games were all played Feb. 2, followed by the two semifinal matches.
Horton and Avon View got things going bright and early at 8 a.m., with the Avalanche taking a 7-3 decision. In the other morning games, Central Kings topped Northumberland and Barrington blanked Bernice MacNaughton 4-0.
In afternoon action, Avon View and CEC played to a 1-1 draw, NKEC outscored Northumberland 4-1 and Bernice MacNaughton doubled Digby 8-4.NKEC (3-0), Avon View, CEC and Barrington (all 2-0-1) advanced to the playoff round.