SUMMERSIDE – Eastlink Arena will be the site of Game 1 in the best-of-five P.E.I. Irving Oil Bantam AAA Hockey League championship series between the Charlottetown Abbies and Summerside Capitals on Wednesday.
The puck will drop at 7:45 p.m.
The Capitals earned a berth in the final by sweeping the Mid-Isle Matrix in one best-of-five semifinal, and the Abbies defeated the O’Leary-based Western Maroons in five hard-fought games.
The first-place Capitals finished the regular season with a record of 25-3-2 (won-lost-tied), and the Abbies were third at 18-7-5. The Caps won four of the five head-to-head meetings against Charlottetown.
However, head coaches Todd Richard of the Capitals and the Abbies’ Cory Gaudet see the regular season as a thing of the past.
“Cory and his staff will have the Abbies’ team ready to play Wednesday,” said Richard. “We expect a tight defensive game, with both teams wanting to limit scoring chances the entire series.
“We know that they are a skilled team with some explosive players, and coming off a big series win they will be riding momentum into Game 1.”
Gaudet is expecting to see a well-prepared Capitals’ team.
“Summerside is well coached,” said Gaudet. “They (Caps) have the best offence in the league, so they are probably going to come at us from the start.
“They have depth at all positions and play a great team game. They will be hungry after last season’s runner up finish.”
Both coaches say that staying out the penalty box will be important.
“Discipline is going to be very key for us during the series,” said Richard. “We’ll need to maintain our game plan for the entire series.
“The season series was very intense against them (Abbies), and we expect that this will continue and go to another level. Fans will be treated to some really good hockey as both teams look to win an Island championship.”
Gaudet said the Abbies will need to limit turnovers and Summerside’s scoring chances.
“We need to score even strength and work hard on the forecheck,” added Gaudet.
The Capitals’ Evan Richard and the Abbies’ Ava Boutilier are expected to get the nod between the pipes in the series opener.
Game 2 will be played at Simmons Sport Centre in Charlottetown on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Game 3 will be back in Summerside on Sunday (time to be announced).
The series winner will represent P.E.I. at the 23rd Irving Oil Challenge Cup in Mount Pearl, N.L., from April 3 to 6.