In back-to-back weekend games
SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Western Capitals will look to build off three strong efforts last week in back-to-back games this weekend.
The Capitals visit the Truro Bearcats on Saturday night, and return to Eastlink Arena on Sunday to host the Campbellton Tigers in an important Roger Meek Division clash in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League).
“Any time you are playing a divisional opponent, and a team we are tight with in the standings, they (Tigers) are going to be excited to play us,” said Capitals head coach Tim Schurman on Friday. “They are going to be putting an emphasis on the game as well.”
The Tigers went into Friday’s home game against Pictou County two points behind the fourth-place Capitals.
“It’s the kind of game we have to win, and we look forward to it,” said Capitals goaltender Simon-Pier Chamberland, who was named the league’s first star last week.
Chamberland was a big part of the Caps’ earning three of a possible six points. The Caps lost 3-2 in overtime to Pictou County, Dieppe scored with six seconds remaining in regulation time for a 3-2 win Saturday and the Caps scored two late third-period goals to edge Woodstock 4-3.
“I thought it was a good week for us,” assessed Schurman, who added he felt the Caps deserved a couple of more points last week. “Guys have been battling hard in practice, and they have been very attentive when we meet with them or are working on things in practice.
“All of the guys are on the same page now in terms of what it’s going to take to be successful at this level. We know every night we have to come and work as hard as we possibly can to compete with the other teams because there is a lot of parity in the league.
“We were happy with last week, and would have liked to have had a few more points, but in terms of work ethic and guys battling during games we were happy with that.”
Although the Caps continue to struggle offensively, they have allowed three or fewer goals in six of their last seven games.
“A lot of that is attributed to Simon coming in and being a calming presence in the nets for us,” said Schurman. “He’s (Chamberland) given us everything we were hoping he would give us.”
Schurman says another big contributor to the improved defensive play is the players becoming more familiar with the system.
“It’s a little different than a lot of the guys played before, and there are different responsibilities,” offered Schurman. “It takes a while for them to grasp it, and they are all very much buying into it.
“It still takes time to get used to where you’re going. . . We still have a lot of work to do, but we feel our team has improved quite a bit over the last month. We feel we are getting better, and there’s still a couple of more steps we can make.”
Summerside Western Capitals notebook:
Saturday is the third meeting of the regular season between the Capitals and Truro Bearcats. Truro swept a home-and-home series on Oct. 19 and 20 by winning 3-0 and 7-4.
Sunday will mark the Campbellton Tigers’ second visit to Summerside this season. The Caps won 6-1 on Oct. 6. The Caps travel to Campbellton for the first time on Nov. 20.
Co-captain Michael Crocock will be back on the Capitals’ blue-line this weekend. Crocock, forward Malik Johnson and head coach Tim Schurman, who was a member of the selection committee, attended this week’s Team Canada East camp for the World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Yarmouth, N.S., from Nov. 4 to 10. Johnson was unable to complete the camp due to an injury.
“I thought it was a good week for us. Guys have been battling hard in practice, and they have been very attentive when we meet with them or are working on things in practice. All of the guys are on the same page now in terms of what it’s going to take to be successful at this level. We know every night we have to come and work as hard as we possibly can to compete with the other teams because there is a lot of parity in the league. We were happy with last week, and would have liked to have had a few more points, but in terms of work ethic and guys battling during games we were happy with that.” Capitals head coach Tim Schurman
“Unfortunately, for Crocock, he ran into a numbers game,” said Schurman. “You are only allowed to have five 1994s, 19-year-olds, on your team.”
Schurman said it was a great experience participating in the Hockey Canada event.
“It was a great opportunity to get to work with some of the best coaches from Ontario east,” said Schurman. “The team manager works with the world junior team, and is going to work with the Olympic team. It was a really good experience.
“It’s a good place to bounce some things off some guys, everybody worked well together and it was a good sounding board.”
Capitals’ rookie defenceman Cavan Fitzgerald has been selected to play for Team East in the Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game in Digby, N.S. The game will be held in conjunction with the World Junior A Hockey Challenge, which takes place in Yarmouth, N.S., from Nov. 4 to 10. In 13 regular-season games, Fitzgerald has seven points, including four goals, and 17 penalty minutes.
Capitals forward Peter Kavanagh has returned home to Newfoundland and Labrador. The six-foot and 171-pound Kavanagh was pointless in eight regular-season games.