Miramichi head coach expects tough series vs. Western Capitals
MIRAMICHI, N.B. – It’s a big season for the Miramichi Timberwolves.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Miramichi Timberwolves defenceman Trey Lewis makes a pass during a regular-season game against the Summerside Western Capitals at Eastlink Arena. Lewis is one of four Timberwolves named to the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) all-star team.
“When I first took over the team three years ago, I was adamant that we stick to a three-year plan, and if we did the benefits would really show,” said Timberwolves head coach and director of hockey personnel Robert MacDonald. “The benefits for the last two years have really shown.
“We like where we are at now, we are very comfortable with our team and our record reflects that.”
The Timberwolves were the top team in the Roger Meek Division and finished tied with the Truro Bearcats atop the overall standings in the 11-team MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League). Each team had 79 points – Miramichi was 37-10-0-5 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses) and Truro was 38-11-1-2.
“Our motto at the first of the year was don’t get too high on your highs and too low on your lows,” said MacDonald. “When you think you are going good there is always someone who can knock you off your pedestal.
“When things are going bad you just have to find a way to get that victory back. We are happy with the consistency, both home and on the road.”
The Timberwolves will look to carry that consistency over to the playoffs, which open at the Miramichi Civic Centre on Saturday night. Miramichi will face the Summerside Western Capitals in the best-of-seven Roger Meek Division semifinal series. Game 2 is at Eastlink Arena on Monday at 7 p.m.
Make no mistake about it, Miramichi is starving for a championship, and that is not lost on MacDonald.
“A fact that was brought to my attention this year was that in the (team’s) 14 years they have never ever played in the final, and three of the 14 years they have only made it to the second round,” explained MacDonald. “You don’t ever want to look past your opponent, but there is excitement for the fans.
“When I first took over the team three years ago, I was adamant that we stick to a three-year plan, and if we did the benefits would really show. The benefits for the last two years have really shown. We like where we are at now, we are very comfortable with our team and our record reflects that.” Timberwolves head coach and director of hockey personnel Robert MacDonald
“Finishing tied for first overall in the regular season, Miramichi’s history of not having great playoff success, they (fans) are hoping this year is a big year, and we are too.”
However, MacDonald knows it won’t be easy against the Capitals.
“I’ve only been in the league coaching for three years, but in all of my three years here we have never had an easy game against Summerside,” said MacDonald. “We expect them to play us tough.
“We played them seven times this season, and four of those games went to extra time (shootouts) and they could have gone either way. We don’t expect an easy series.”
The Timberwolves won five of those meetings, with both Caps’ wins coming in shootouts.
How would MacDonald describe the head-to-head meetings between the Caps and Timberwolves in the regular season?
“They’ve been back and forth,” he answered. “A lot of times there wasn’t consistent 60 minutes by either team, and I’m sure they will say the same thing, but every single game there was very little separation.
“A lot of times you’d get up and they would always battle back and then we would regain the lead and they would battle back, or they would take the lead and we would battle back. They’ve been hard-fought games all season long.”