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August 10, 2018
Forty years ago, the donators of the CCAA Championship Bowl became the first post secondary hockey team from Nova Scotia to win a national championship. The College of Cape Breton Capers from Sydney were also the first Nova Scotia team to bring home gold from a Canadian Colleges Athletic Association national championship in any sport.
The Capers began the season in September with dryland training and on ice tryouts and ended the season in April with a celebration. After posting a regular season record of 19 wins, 7 losses, and two ties in the Cape Breton Senior Hockey League, the Capers blanked the Glace Bay Colts 6-0 in the seventh and deciding game of the finals to become league champions.
In between, the Capers participated in the Nova Scotia Colleges Conference playoffs. With a 10-0 win over Nova Scotia Agricultural College and an 8-2 victory over the Technical University of Nova Scotia, the College of Cape Breton as conference champions earned the right to advance to the Canadian College Athletic Association National Hockey Championships in Montreal.
The College of Cape Breton then made a fourth consecutive appearance at nationals and was looking to improve on a fourth place finish in 1977 after bronze medal performances in 1975 and 1976. In the opening game, backup goaltender Graham Grant received the nod for the College of Cape Breton's as number one netminder Rick McDonald was out with the flu and backstopped the Capers to a 9-5 triumph over the host Andre Laurendeau College Titans. In the semi final, the College of Cape Breton with Grant between the pipes upset the Humber College Hawks 7-6. In the final, Kevin MacRae intercepted an errant pass and netted a shorthanded goal at 9:44 of the first overtime to give the Capers a 4-3 overtime win over the heavily favored defending national champion Red Deer College Kings.
Of the 23 CCAA hockey national champions, the 1977-78 College of Cape Breton Capers were the lone Nova Scotia team to raise a national champion banner. The Capers were the only Nova Scotia team to ever appear at nationals making a record 12 appearances. The team also won a NSCC record 15 conference championships.
The 1977-78 College of Cape Breton Capers were the fourth hockey team from Nova Scotia and first from Cape Breton Island to win a national championship. Their predecessors, the 1934-35 Allan Cup champion Halifax Wolverines as well as the 1952-53 and 1953-54 Alexander Cup champion Halifax Atlantics, are members of the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame.