The Crushers will play their inaugural game in the brand new Pictou County Wellness Centre against the Truro Bearcats on Thursday evening, host the Dieppe Commandos on Saturday night and visit the Summerside Western Capitals at Eastlink Arena on Sunday at 2 p.m.
“Obviously, the teams (Caps, 17-3-2-0, and Crushers, 9-9-4-1) right now are going in two different directions,” said Malone in a phone interview on Tuesday night. “We are trying to get back on a winning track, and hopefully we bring our A game (to Summerside). We have two very important games before that.”
The Crushers have lost six games in a row and nine of their last 10, including three in overtime and one in a shootout, in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League). The Caps, meanwhile, take a six-game winning streak into Friday’s match in Dieppe.
However, if the first three regular-season meetings between the Caps and Crushers are any indication, fans can expect Sunday’s game to come right down to the wire. The Crushers won the regular-season opener 5-4 in overtime at Eastlink Arena on Sept. 15, and the Caps posted two one-goal victories at the John (Brother) MacDonald Stadium in New Glasgow, N.S. Those scores were 2-1 on Sept. 27 and 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 25.
“They were hard-fought games,” reflected Malone. “We battled hard in Summerside’s home opener, and they came back and had two very good performances here (New Glasgow, N.S.).”
Malone expects Sunday’s game to come down to goaltending, and how each team plays its system.
“Summerside is a veteran team,” said Malone. “We are expecting a tight game.”
Malone, who spent four seasons anchoring the Caps’ blue-line and spent one year as an assistant coach under Forbie Kennedy, said P.E.I. fans can expect to see basically the same team that was here in September.
“Obviously, the teams (Caps, 17-3-2-0, and Crushers, 9-9-4-1) right now are going in two different directions. We are trying to get back on a winning track, and hopefully we bring our A game (to Summerside). We have two very important games before that.” - Crushers head coach and general manager Jason Malone
“We haven’t made many acquisitions, but we seem to be gripping our sticks a little tighter now, which is unfortunate,” said Malone. “We still try to play with a high energy, play a skilled game and we’re not trapping.
“We try to move our feet in all situations. Hopefully, we can get back on track Thursday in our new arena, and carry that over to Saturday and Sunday.”
The new facility, noted Malone, has created an excitement all around Pictou County. It is located just outside of New Glasgow, N.S.
“It’s not only a big milestone for our organization, but the entire community,” said Malone. “This just isn’t for us; it’s for everyone. Everyone has bought into it, and hopefully everyone can enjoy it. There are so many things you can do here, much like the Credit Union Place (in Summerside).”
Malone is now in his third year with the Crushers, and he also serves as general manager.
“It’s a great community, it’s a great organization and we have a great staff,” said Malone. “Our players are great, and we are trying to promote the student-athlete over here.
“We have 17 of our players attending St. F.X., right now, and three of them are in high school. Out of the 22 players, 20 of them are in school. . . The organization is behind that 100 per cent.
“When you have everyone pulling in the same direction, it’s easy to enjoy your work and that’s definitely the situation I’m in over here.”
Jason Simmonds is the sports editor of the Journal Pioneer. The “Islanders Away” feature appears every Thursday. To suggest an “Islander Away” please do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.