With back-to-back 4 p.m. starts on Saturday and Sunday
SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Western Capitals will play back-to-back home games this weekend, and fans are asked to note the start times.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Summerside Western Capitals forward Isaac Jay, 12, gets a shot away while linemate Blaize Bridges drives to the net for a possible rebound. The Campbellton Tigers’ Dallas Lahache looks to prevent a pass while teammate Francis Theriault looks to keep Bridges from getting a possible rebound.
The Capitals will host the Dieppe Commandos in a make-up game on Saturday, and the Truro Bearcats visit Eastlink Arena on Sunday. Both MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) contests will get underway at 4 p.m.
“Sunday, we got bumped to 4 due to another commitment at Credit Union Place, and that was on the schedule right from the start,” explained Capitals general manager Pat McIver. “Crowds have been down this year, and it seems it doesn’t matter if it’s a Sunday afternoon, Saturday night, Friday night or whatever.
“When we had these make-up games to put in, we said, ‘Let’s try Saturday afternoon.’
“There are not many teams playing on Saturday afternoons. . . It is accessible for families, kids and even people who want to watch Hockey Night in Canada that night. We are going to keep trying things.”
Chasing first place
The Commandos bring a 19-6-2-0 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses) mark into Summerside, which is good enough for second place in the Roger Meek Division, one point behind the first-place Miramichi Timberwolves (19-6-0-3). Dieppe has won all four regular-season meetings against the Capitals (10-16-1-1).
“We’ve had some tight games with Dieppe the last couple of times we’ve played them,” said McIver. “We lost in a shootout (in Dieppe on Nov. 11), and lost by a goal at home in the last five seconds (of regulation time on Oct. 26).
“We are excited to see where we are at with them. They are obviously adding players, but we like our team and feel we are ready to compete with those guys.”
The Bearcats come to Summerside looking to make it a complete sweep of the four regular-season matchups against the Caps. Truro, which is 19-8-0-2, holds down second place in the Eastlink Division.
“Truro is always a tough team to play against, regardless of whether you are home or away,” said McIver. “They (Bearcats) play their systems well.
“It’s going to be a tough battle too. We are going to be ready, and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
McIver announced that defenceman Lucas Blomquist has committed to joining the Caps. Blomquist, who turns 19 in May, is from Boulder, Col., and started the season with the Pictou County Weeks Crushers of the MHL.
The Capitals acquired Blomquist on Dec. 1 for future considerations.
“Sunday, we got bumped to 4 due to another commitment at Credit Union Place, and that was on the schedule right from the start. Crowds have been down this year, and it seems it doesn’t matter if it’s a Sunday afternoon, Saturday night, Friday night or whatever. When we had these make-up games to put in, we said, ‘Let’s try Saturday afternoon.’ There are not many teams playing on Saturday afternoons. . . It is accessible for families, kids and even people who want to watch Hockey Night in Canada that night. We are going to keep trying things.” Capitals general manager Pat McIver
“He’s (Blomquist) a big defenceman,” said McIver. “He’s a good skater and he’s going to be able to play a defensive role for us.
“I’ve seen him in a couple of games – once in an exhibition game and once in a regular-season game. I liked him.
“In talking to Wade (Taylor) in Pictou, he speaks very highly of him.”
Summerside Western Capitals’ notebook:
The Capitals are in the midst of a seven-game homestand. The Caps have dropped two of the first three games while being outscored 14-11.
Capitals general manager Pat McIver says team captain Jordan Buchanan is close to returning to the lineup. McIver said Buchanan, who suffered a hairline fracture in his foot, could return as early as this weekend.
The Capitals have been active in the community recently. The Caps recently presented the Summerside Salvation Army with a cheque for $540 from a food drive that was held before a recent game. The Caps also held their second annual Teddy Bear Toss on New Year’s Eve in support of the Chad Gallant Memorial Teddy Bear Drive. Fans helped fill a van with teddy bears after tossing the stuffed animals on the ice after the Caps’ first goal in a 5-3 loss to Miramichi.
McIver offered these thoughts on the Miramichi game: “We fell behind 2-0 two minutes in, we battled back (to tie the game), and we had a poor second period. Playing against a good team you can’t take 20 minutes off, and that’s basically what we did.
“We outshot them in the first and third periods, and I thought we battled them hard in the first and third periods. We just had a lapse in the second period and it cost us the game.”
Any community group that would like to partner with the Western Capitals for an event or fundraiser is encouraged to contact the team to discuss opportunities. The team can be contacted through its Facebook page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
With files from Jeremy MacDonald