On Saturday afternoon
ALBERTON – The Western Maroons will open the best-of-five semifinal series against the Charlottetown Abbies in the P.E.I. Irving Oil Bantam AAA Hockey League on Saturday afternoon.
The game will be played at the Jacques Cartier Arena in Alberton at 4 p.m.
“We are very excited heading into the second round,” said Maroons head coach Jeff Ellsworth. “In Round 1, we played the Sherwood Falcons and beat them three straight.
“It was a tough year for the Falcons, but we give them credit for sticking with the program and completing the season. It would have been very easy for athletes of that age to walk away from a disappointing season, but they didn’t and you have to tip your cap to the players and coaches.
“The final game of the series was 3-2 – a very close game that could have gone either way. Both teams played a great series.”
Ellsworth expects it to be a battle to the end against the Abbies, and notes discipline and a strong focus on the game plan will be keys for the Maroons.
“We bought into a system of “One Team, One Goal,” and to play for the front of the jersey, not the back, and that’s the attitude we will take into this series,” added Ellsworth.
The Abbies held a 2-1-2 (won-lost-tied) edge in the season series against the Maroons.
“They (Abbies) are a very good team,” said Maroons assistant coach Tylan Robinson. “They have it all – speed, good defence and good goaltending, all the ingredients you need to have a winning hockey club.
“In the past between the two clubs, whoever shows up and plays harder and whoever wants it more usually got the two points.”
Ellsworth is excited to have veteran blue-liner Chance Pitre back in the lineup for Game 1.
“We have been without Chance for three or four weeks at the end of the season with an upper-body injury,” said Ellsworth. “The good thing about being a young fit athlete is you heal quicker than an older athlete.
“Chance has been on the ice the past two weeks working and skating hard, and he looks great and is ready and eager to go.”
The Maroons will be leaning heavy on the back end, especially on goaltenders Luke Oliver and Bronson Banks, against the Abbies.
“They (Oliver and Banks) have been rock solid for us all season long,” said Maroons assistant coach TJ Campbell. “They love the game and they love to compete against one another.”
Game 2 is scheduled for Simmons Sport Centre in Charlottetown on Sunday, March 2. The puck will drop at 12:10 p.m.