Woodstock opens up nine-point lead
SUMMERSIDE – The Woodstock Slammers picked up an important two points against a pesky Summerside Western Capitals’ squad at Eastlink Arena on Sunday afternoon.
The Slammers pulled out a 3-2 victory while improving to 19-16-2-1 (won-lost-overtime losses/shootout losses) and opening up a nine-point lead over the fourth-place Capitals (14-19-2-2) in the Roger Meek Division of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League). The Capitals hold a 12-point lead over the Campbellton Tigers (9-27-1-1) for the division’s final playoff berth.
“I thought both teams had some energy, especially early,” assessed Capitals head coach Tim Schurman. “I thought we played a solid game, had a lot of chances and were unable to capitalize.”
The difference in the game proved to be a short-handed breakaway goal by the Slammers’ Angus Johnston at 8:02 of the second period. With the Capitals on a 5-on-3 power play, a Summerside defenceman lost his footing at the blue-line and tripped, resulting in a clear-cut breakaway for Johnston, who made no mistake beating goaltender Alex Kelly for a 3-1 lead.
“It’s a tough break, that’s hockey,” said Schurman. “Those things will happen. It wasn’t a lack of effort by any means.
“It’s just one of those things that happens, and it ended up in the back of the net. Good on them (Slammers) for capitalizing.”
After the first period ended in a 1-1 tie, Woodstock took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission, and Curtis McGregor’s third goal of the season 2:11 into the third period brought the Caps to within one goal. However, despite carrying the play and outshooting the Slammers 14-6 in the third period, and just missing on some glorious opportunities, the Capitals could not net the equalizer.
Despite missing four key regulars – goaltender Simon-Pier Chamberland (injury) along with forwards Brad Power (injury), Maxim Pitre (suspension) and Malik Johnson (recalled to Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) – Schurman was pleased with his team’s play and work ethic.
“I thought collectively we had a very good game,” said the first-year head coach. “Their first goal we were hard on the backcheck, we knocked the puck off their stick, it hit our D-man’s skate and it squibbed free and they scored on it.
“Most of their goals they benefited from capitalizing on some breaks. As a whole, I thought we did good.
“I thought both teams had some energy, especially early. I thought we played a solid game, had a lot of chances and were unable to capitalize.” Capitals head coach Tim Schurman
“Alex Kelly made some great saves at the end of the game to hold us down by one. It’s nice to see a guy like Curtis get on the board with a goal. We really need secondary scoring, so it’s a nice to see a guy like Curtis chip in with some offence because we know all the other things he does well.”
Brett MacLean and Jake Wright also scored for Woodstock while Blaize Bridges netted the first Capitals’ goal.
Overall, the Capitals outshot the Slammers 39-30. Winning goaltender was Tyler Snow.
Referee T.J. Courtney called four minors against the Slammers and two minors and one double minor for spearing against the Capitals.
The three stars of the game, which was played before 783 fans, were:
1. Massimo Matteau (Slammers), 2. Blake Millman (Capitals), 3. Angus Johnston (Slammers).
The Capitals’ next home game is against the Valley Wildcats on Friday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m.