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Cape Breton Jets, Cabot Highlanders set to open under-16 ‘AAA’ season this weekend

The Cabot Highlanders will have seven returning players in their lineup when they begin their Nova Scotia Under-16 Hockey League season this weekend on the road. The Highlanders have high expectations for the new campaign. JEREMY FRASER/CAPE BRETON POST
The Cabot Highlanders will have seven returning players in their lineup when they begin their Nova Scotia Under-16 Hockey League season this weekend on the road. The Highlanders have high expectations for the new campaign. JEREMY FRASER/CAPE BRETON POST

It’s been more than seven months since the Cape Breton Jets and the Cabot Highlanders have played a meaningful game of hockey.

The Nova Scotia Under-16 ‘AAA’ Hockey League teams, like all clubs, were forced to suspend operations in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, two days before the start of the league playoffs.

Despite uncertainty around the league, which consists of 15-to-16-year-old players, the Jets and Highlanders will once again return to the ice this weekend when they begin their respective seasons on the road.

Cape Breton will open the season with games against the Basin Armada of Bedford on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., following by a meeting with the Admirals of Upper Tantallon on Sunday at 11:15 a.m.

Meanwhile, the Port Hawkesbury-based Highlanders will face the Voyageurs HC of Dartmouth in a two-game between series. The teams will meet Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the Bowles Arena, and Sunday at 1 p.m. at the RBC Centre, both venues in Dartmouth.

The Jets enter the season coming off a year in which the team struggled to find the win column. The team finished last in the eight-team league with a 3-21-2-0 record.

Despite the growing pains, head coach Jim (Fred) Head believes this year’s squad will be more competitive.

“I think we’re going to be solid,” said Head. “It’s going to take a bit of time. The majority of the team is coming from the bantam ‘AA’ league this year because the under-18 major club (Sydney Mitsubishi Rush) have chosen to ice a young team this season.”

The Cape Breton Jets will look to improve on their 2019-20 season when they hit the ice this weekend to begin the Nova Scotia Under-16 ‘AAA’ Hockey League regular season. The Jets will have four returning players from last year’s club. JEREMY FRASER/CAPE BRETON POST
The Cape Breton Jets will look to improve on their 2019-20 season when they hit the ice this weekend to begin the Nova Scotia Under-16 ‘AAA’ Hockey League regular season. The Jets will have four returning players from last year’s club. JEREMY FRASER/CAPE BRETON POST

 

The Membertou-based team will have four returning players this year including brothers Zackary and Dawson Cecchetto as well as defenceman Matthew Carroll and Nick Johnson.

The club was also fortunate to add veteran netminder Lucas Fraser, who earlier this month was released by the Rush after playing last season with the team.

“We’re happy that he chose to come with us,” said Head of Fraser’s decision. “He will play in this program to better his game and he will continue to develop as a strong netminder.”

During the 2019-20 season, the Jets scored the fewest goals (50) in the league, while allowing the most goals against (129). Head doesn’t see scoring to be an issue this season.

“We have lots of scoring power,” said Head. “We have four of the top five scorers from the bantam ‘AA’ league last season and they’re going to help us win games this season.”

Meanwhile, the Highlanders are poised to be one of the top teams in the league with seven returning players on this year’s club including No. 1 netminder Cole Goss.

“We have a good mix,” said Highlanders head coach Jesse MacLean. “We’re feeling good about our defence core … we have a good mix up front with a couple of returnees and a couple of players from The Novas (under-15 major) so we’re looking good so far.”

Cabot finished sixth in the league last season with a 7-10-2-6 record, while scoring the second-fewest goals (69) in the league.

MacLean has higher expectations this season, especially with the addition of rookie forward Colin Van Zutphen of Port Hood, who finished atop the Cape Breton Bantam ‘AA’ Hockey League with 23 goals and 48 points in 30 games.

“You don’t want to blow the kids out of proportion right off the bat, but I’d be looking at a top three or four finish, that’s where I see us,” said MacLean, noting the team had a 5-0-1-0 record in the preseason.

“You don’t really know until you get into the games and start playing all the teams, but we’re going to take it one day at a time, but we have set goals for ourselves.”

Following the weekend, the Jets will host the Fundy Thunder of Truro in the club’s home opener on Oct. 31 at 3 p.m. at the Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre.

As for the Highlanders, the club’s home opener will be on Oct. 31 when they host the Armada at 6 p.m. at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.


2020-21 ROSTERS AND COACHING STAFF

CAPE BRETON JETS

NAME Position Hometown

Lucas Fraser Goaltender Sydney

Ben MacGillivary Goaltender Sydney

Nick Johnson Defenceman New Harris

Coady Grace Defenceman New Waterford

Terrance Toney Defenceman Eskasoni

James Jobes Defenceman North Sydney

Matthew Carroll Defenceman Albert Bridge

Josh Walsh Defenceman Sydney River

Simon A. Marshall Defenceman Eskasoni

Zackary Cecchetto Forward New Waterford

Dawson Cecchetto Forward New Waterford

Luc Sampson Forward Sydney

Joshua Novak Forward Sydney

Keegan Geizer Forward Sydney

Braydon MacDonald Forward Glace Bay

Dillon Arsenault Forward Sydney

David Ramsey Forward Sydney

Marcellus Francis Forward Eskasoni

Josh Dennis Forward Eskasoni

Kale MacNeil Forward Glace Bay

Coaching Staff:

Jim (Fred) Head – Head Coach and General Manager

Charlie Johnson – Assistant Coach

Matt MacLeod – Assistant Coach

Brandon Lund – Assistant Coach

John-Michael Walsh – Development Coach

John Glenn Hillier – Trainer

Terry Wilcox – Dryland Trainer

Scott Gouthro – Goaltender Coach


CABOT HIGHLANDERS

NAME POSITION HOMETOWN

Cole Goss Goaltender Antigonish

Dan Morrison Goaltender Baddeck

Ben Kennedy Defenceman Lochaber

Damon MacDonald Defenceman Antigonish

Drew MacLean Defenceman Inverness

Leo MacLean Defenceman Port Hawkesbury

Brent O’Handley Defenceman Guysborough

Jack Taylor Defenceman Havre Boucher

Angus Aucoin Forward Englishtown

Kenzie Batherson Forward Port Hood

Cameron Bell Forward Antigonish

Daniel Chiasson Forward Antigonish

Joanthan Dunphy Forward Dingwall

Blake MacDonnell Forward Inverness

Cody MacDougall Forward Inverness

Brady MacNeil Forward Port Hawkesbury

Brody MacPherson Forward Antigonish

Logan McGrath Forward Sherbrooke

Andrew Murray Forward Antigonish

Colin Van Zutphen Forward Port Hood

Coaching Staff:

Jesse MacLean – Head Coach

Jacob Keagan – Assistant Coach

Mitchell Warner – Assistant Coach

Riley Keeling – Trainer

Brian Tracey – Manager


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