Entering 2013-14 regular season
KENSINGTON – After knocking on the door the past two seasons, the Arsenault’s Fish Mart Western Red Wings expect to ice a solid team for the 2013-14 Island Junior Hockey League season.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Ryan McNeill of the Arsenault’s Fish Mart Western Red Wings looks to make a pass during an Island Junior Hockey League pre-season game against the Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers on Sunday night.
The Red Wings are coming off a 17-12-1 (won-lost-overtime/shootout losses) record two years ago, and a 14-11-1 mark last season. Both years the Red Wings defeated the Sherwood A&S Scrap Metal Falcons in the semifinals, only to be swept in back-to-back finals by arch-rival Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers.
“We have high expectations for this team,” said Red Wings head coach Jackie Ray Bernard in an interview following a 6-4 pre-season road loss to the Vipers on Sunday night. “We have a real solid defensive team right now, our forwards are coming along, but we have some work to do.
“After this game, it gave me a good look at what needs to be done and where we’re going to be.”
Some key returnees for the Red Wings include No. 1 goaltender Chris Gallant, along with last year’s league-leading scorer Jeremy Balderston, who had 33 goals, 26 assists and 59 points in 25 regular-season games.
“We should have one of the top goaltenders in the league with Chris,” said Bernard, who added another big season is expected from Balderston with the graduation of forwards TJ Campbell and John Ryan Francis.
Campbell and Francis had 26 and 25 points, respectively.
Twins Benjie and Willie Gaudet from the Tignish area are new additions up front, and Bernard will be looking to them to pick up some of the offensive load.
“The forwards are coming along,” said Bernard. “We have two top lines and some work to do.”
“We have high expectations for this team. We have a real solid defensive team right now, our forwards are coming along, but we have some work to do. After this game, it gave me a good look at what needs to be done and where we’re going to be.” Red Wings head coach Jackie Ray Bernard
Bernard says that while the Red Wings may have lost some offence from last season the team gained some impact players on the blue-line, including former Summerside Western Capital Matt Kelly and Nathan Ellis.
“The blue-line is going to be solid,” assessed Bernard. “I’m very happy with the blue-line.
“We have eight trying out for defence. It’s not too often you have that many trying out for a team.”
Thus, don’t expect the Red Wings to be involved with too many high-scoring contests.
“We will be a defensive team for sure,” reiterated Bernard. “We have a little work to do on the defensive side, but we will get there.”
The Red Wings will once again play their home games at the Evangeline Recreation Centre on Saturday nights.
The Red Wings open the regular season on the road against the Holland College Hurricanes at Simmons Sport Centre on Saturday night, and visit the Falcons on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m. The Red Wings’ home opener is against the Montague Maniacs on Saturday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m.
“You can’t get much better than the fan support we get,” said Bernard. “I can’t wait for our home opener. Hopefully, we have a big crowd.”