In Boxing Day evening game at Community Gardens
KENSINGTON – The Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild will conclude a busy day of hockey here at Community Gardens on Boxing Day.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild captain Abel Arsenault, 19, of Abram-Village and Cole Jenkins, 6, of the Charlottetown Islanders race for a loose puck during a New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League game at Community Gardens on Dec. 14. The two teams will meet in Kensington on Boxing Day at 7:30 p.m.
The Wild will host the Charlottetown Islanders on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and the game will follow an afternoon game between the Island Junior Hockey League’s Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers and Arsenault’s Fish Mart Western Red Wings.
“It’s always nice to have an Island rivalry game on Boxing Day,” said Wild head coach Mark Carragher. “We are going to look forward to that, and hopefully we will play hard and we look forward to having another good battle with them.”
It will be the third time the two Island rivals have met in less than two weeks. The Wild defeated the Islanders 7-1 in Kensington on Dec. 14, and followed that up with a 4-1 victory in Charlottetown on Sunday afternoon.
“The league is tight, and we expect to have a battle with every team,” said Carragher.
The last meeting between the two teams at the Gardens featured some physical play by both teams.
“Any game you play against those guys is going to be like that,” said Wild forward Max Morrison. “Emotions are high, and it’s the way it goes against Charlottetown.”
The Wild goes into the game with a seven-point lead over the Islanders in the league standing. At the end of the regular season, the New Brunswick teams will have their own playoffs while the Wild and Islanders will meet in a provincial championship series to determine each province’s representative at the Atlantic championship.
The team that finishes higher in the standings will have home-ice advantage for the Wild and Islanders’ series.
Thus, a regulation-time win by the Wild will open up a nine-point bulge, but the Islanders can close to within five with a non-overtime win.
“It’s always nice to have an Island rivalry game on Boxing Day. We are going to look forward to that, and hopefully we will play hard and we look forward to having another good battle with them.” Wild head coach Mark Carragher
“We expect them (Islanders) to play hard, and we are going to play hard,” said Carragher. “Sometimes emotions get high with only two Island teams, and that is to be expected.
“We expect the same thing the rest of the year and through the playoffs.”
Overcome slow start
After losing the first four games of the regular season and winning just two of their first 10 contests, the Islanders have gone 6-3-1 (won-lost-overtime losses) in their last 10.
“We say it’s a process,” said Carragher. “We are always building towards the end of the year.
“A lot of guys never played with each other at the start of the year. It was a learning curve, and now the guys are getting used to our systems in place and playing as a team, which is the biggest thing. You can definitely see we’re playing more as a group than we were at the start of the year and less as individuals.”
This is the Wild’s first year in Kensington after the franchise operated as the Cornwall Thunder for a number of years. The Wild has attracted around 300 fans for most games.
“It’s been a success so far,” said Carragher in explaining the Wild’s first half in Kensington. “It’s nice to have the community support, and it’s nice for our group. We get treated well here.
“We got off to a bit of a slow start, but we are coming together pretty well now. We want to keep getting better every week, every game and we hope we can keep getting better in the second half.”