Big weekend at home for Caps

Jason Simmonds
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Host back-to-back matinees

SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Western Capitals will return to action with back-to-back home games over the long weekend.

Summerside Western Capitals defenceman Lucas Blomquist cuts in front of goaltender Alex Kelly during a recent MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) game at Eastlink Arena.

The Capitals, who have been off since winning all four games over a five-day period last week, host arch-rival Woodstock Slammers on Sunday while the Pictou County Weeks Crushers, who are in a tight race with the Truro Bearcats for top spot in the Eastlink Division, are at Eastlink Arena on Islander Day (Monday, Feb. 17). Both MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) games will start at 2 p.m.

“It was business as usual (this week) practising to get ready for Sunday and Monday,” said Capitals head coach Tim Schurman. “We did a little bit of everything this week.

“We went over some D zone and worked on special teams on Friday.

“We did a lot of competing drills to make sure the boys stay in shape, so there was lots of conditioning.”

Third place

The Capitals, who have secured a playoff spot and sit fourth in the Roger Meek Division, still have an outside shot at catching third-place Woodstock. The Caps, who are 18-20-2-3 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses), are eight points back of the Slammers (23-17-2-1). Each team has nine regular-season games remaining.

“One of our goals is to get as close as we can, or pass Woodstock in the last couple of weeks,” said Capitals forward Thomas Stavert, who was named the MHL’s first star last week after scoring six goals, including two game-winners, and adding two assists in four games. “We have really been working towards that, and a win on Sunday would be huge for us.”

Hot teams

Both the Caps and Slammers come into Sunday’s game on hot streaks. The Slammers, who have won seven of their last eight, take a four-game winning streak into Saturday’s game in Miramichi while the Caps have won four straight and earned at least a point in their last five contests.

“We’ve grown a lot since the trade deadline (on Jan. 10),” said Stavert. “We have a pretty young team. There have been a few ups and downs throughout the year, but we are starting to get used to how we have to play, and everyone is more comfortable than they were a few months ago.”

One of those players getting accustomed to playing with the Caps is defenceman Lucas Blomquist, who has three points and six penalty minutes in 13 games.

“It was business as usual (this week) practising to get ready for Sunday and Monday. We did a little bit of everything this week. We went over some D zone and worked on special teams on Friday. We did a lot of competing drills to make sure the boys stay in shape, so there was lots of conditioning.” Capitals head coach Tim Schurman

“Lucas came right around the (Jan. 10) deadline,” said Schurman. “He’s gaining confidence every game.

“You can see it in his game when he gets the puck. He’s not rushing to make a decision, he’s making some plays and he’s getting up in the rush at the right time. He also has a big body and he’s not afraid to be a little hard on guys in the corner and in front of the net. He’s certainly starting to come into his own for us, which is nice to see.”

Ring ceremony

Monday’s game will be preceded by the presentation of championship rings to members of the 2012-13 Kent Cup-winning Capitals, who won the franchise’s third league title in five years. Over 20 team members, including staff, from last year are expected to participate.

“It’s going to be a fun day with a lot of people Monday with a lot of our players from last year coming into town for the ring ceremony,” said Schurman. “It’ll be neat to see a lot of those guys personally and for our staff.

“Hopefully, our players this year can meet and talk to them.”

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Notebook

Summerside Western Capitals’ notebook:

Six of the last seven Caps’ games have been decided by one goal. The other game was a 3-1 score.

Thomas Stavert leads the Capitals in scoring with 43 points in 43 games. Stavert has 26 goals and 17 assists.

Capitals forward Brad Power will return to the lineup on Sunday. Power, who has 34 points, including 18 goals, in 35 regular-season games, has been sidelined since suffering a broken jaw in Yarmouth on Jan. 18.

Jake Wright of Woodstock is the MHL’s top point-getter with 59 points in 43 games. Wright has 18 goals and 41 assists.

Former Capitals defenceman, team captain and assistant coach Jason Malone is head coach of the Pictou County Weeks Crushers.

The Capitals are 9-11-1 (won-lost-overtime/shootout losses) on home ice at Eastlink Arena in the regular season.

The Caps are averaging 694 fans through 21 regular-season home games.

Organizations: Capitals, Eastlink Division, Maritime Junior Hockey League

Geographic location: Pictou County, Miramichi, Yarmouth

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