In P.E.I. major midget hockey championship series
KENSINGTON – Although the teams were separated by 16 points, the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild knows the P.E.I. major midget championship series won’t be easy.
The Islanders will host Game 1 of the best-of-seven series against the Charlottetown Mark’s Work Wearhouse Islanders at Community Gardens in Kensington on Saturday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
“We’ve been preparing for this all year,” said Wild head coach Mark Carragher. “We’re ready to go, Charlottetown is going to be hungry, we’re going to be hungry and it should be a great battle.
“We are looking forward to getting it started.”
The winner of the series will represent P.E.I. at the Atlantic major midget hockey championship in New Glasgow, N.S., in early April.
“Both teams are going to play desperate hockey now,” said Carragher. “We are down to two teams and the winner moves on.
“I expect it to be hard-hitting, a lot of quick skating and I expect it to be an intense series.”
Both the Wild and Islanders play in the six-team New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League. The Wild completed the regular season in fifth place at 14-17-4 (won-lost-overtime/shootout losses), and the Islanders were in sixth at 6-24-4.
“We know we are going to be in tough,” said Islanders head coach Jeff MacDonald. “Kensington has had a pretty strong season this year, but we’re very much looking forward to getting started.
“One thing about the playoffs is it’s a fresh start for everyone, and we’re really looking forward to getting started Saturday night.”
The Wild won six of the seven regular-season meetings against the Islanders, but are not taking anything for granted.
“There were a lot of tight battles,” said Carragher referring to three one-goal games and a pair of two-goal spreads. “We’ve had their number in the regular season, and we hope to continue to build on that come playoff time and build on that.”
MacDonald is expecting a close series.
“I think it’s going to be a lot closer than people think,” said MacDonald. “Any time you get two provincial rivals going head to head, you are going to see some really good hockey.
“We may be the underdogs going into the series, but we are very much looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
The Wild is well aware the playoffs are a brand new season, and all they have to do is look back to last year for proof of that. The Wild franchise, which was based in Cornwall then, rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win the provincial championship in overtime of Game 7 on a goal by Summerside Western Capitals forward Blaize Bridges.
“I learned that last year,” said Wild forward Sam Jay, who played with the Islanders last season. “We beat them all year and ended up losing when they came back and surprised everyone.”
Jay led the Wild in scoring with 44 points in 33 games, including 17 goals, and was named a second-team league all-star.
“It’s (series) going to go to the team that wants to work the hardest,” said Jay. “We need to be focused and come to play every night.”
“We’ve been preparing for this all year. We’re ready to go, Charlottetown is going to be hungry, we’re going to be hungry and it should be a great battle. We are looking forward to getting it started.” Wild head coach Mark Carragher
Wild defenceman Bailey Webster, who was selected as a first-team league all-star, agreed with Jay.
“It will definitely be a grinding series, and it will come down to whoever works the hardest,” said Webster, who had five goals and 25 assists in 31 regular-season games. “You have to play all 60 minutes of each game, and there can be no letting up.”
Look at Kensington Wild, Charlottetown Islanders:
Regular-season record: 14-17-4 (won-lost-overtime/shootout losses).
Home record: 8-8-2
Road record: 6-9-2
Points leader: Sam Jay (44).
Goal leader: Sam Jay (17).
Assist leader: Sam Jay (27).
Goaltending: Cameron Visser (8-9-0, 3.26 goals-against average, .913 save percentage); Bradley Shea (6-12-0, 4.78, .862).
Regular-season record: 6-24-4.
Home record: 4-11-2.
Road record: 2-13-2.
Points leader: Jonathan Arsenault (34).
Goal leader: Jonathan Arsenault (21).
Assist leader: Johnathon Larter (21).
Goaltending: Daryl MacCallum (4-13-0, 3.81, .910); Sam Walsh (2-15-0, 5.25, .882).