After Timberwolves take close opener
SUMMERSIDE – If Game 1 is any indication, the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) playoff series between the Summerside Western Capitals and Miramichi Timberwolves will be a close one.
Summerside Western Capitals
The Timberwolves pulled out a 4-3 win before 1,110 fans at the Miramichi Civic Centre on Saturday night.
“It was a good hockey game,” assessed Capitals head coach Tim Schurman. “Both teams came to play, which set the tone for what should be an entertaining series.
“We were able to hang around, and that’s something we do well in games, and gave ourselves a chance to win. . . We played a little tentative early on, but once the bodies get flying around and both teams get chances, your energy gets going and both teams settled in and played a solid game.”
Timberwolves head coach and director of hockey personnel Robert MacDonald was not surprised by the close game.
“It was a tough battle with huge momentum swings,” said MacDonald in a phone interview on Sunday afternoon. “We had a 2-0 lead and they came back and scored two goals a minute apart and got back into it.
"It was a see-saw match back and forth. There was a fair amount of penalties, and both teams were in the penalty box quite a bit. It was a hard-fought game.”
The teams return to Summerside for Game 2 of the best-of-seven Roger Meek Division semifinal series on Monday. The opening faceoff at Eastlink Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“We are going to get a practice in (Sunday), work on a couple of things and hopefully we can bring the same intensity to Game 2,” said Schurman. “It’s our home ice, and hopefully we can hold serve in our barn.”
MacDonald expects another hard-fought contest in Summerside.
“We expect them to try and bounce back,” said MacDonald. “It’s a game for them in their home building, and I’m sure they don’t want to go down 2-0.
“We are prepared they are going to throw everything at us. We just have to go and have a good road game. This year, we have been very solid on the road, and we just have to continue that trend.”
In the series opener, a power-play goal by defenceman Trey Lewis at 10:21 of the second period broke a 3-3 tie.
The Timberwolves held period leads of 1-0 and 4-3, and limited the Caps to six third-period shots in protecting the one-goal lead. The Timberwolves, who went 2-for-5 on the power play, killed off five of six Summerside man advantages, including two in the final 20 minutes.
“We were satisfied with our special teams,” said MacDonald. “You always like to be a little bit better. Our power play is around 40 per cent, so you have to be happy with that for sure.”
Cole MacDonald (1-1), Bryce Milson and Brett Malone also scored for the Timberwolves, who finished the regular season tied for first-place overall in the 11-team league with Truro at 37-10-0-5 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses). Billy Gaston (2), Tyler Brown, Jordan Kennedy, Rankyn Campbell, Tyrone Sock and Kent Small chipped in with assists.
“It was a good hockey game. Both teams came to play, which set the tone for what should be an entertaining series. We were able to hang around, and that’s something we do well in games, and gave ourselves a chance to win. . . We played a little tentative early on, but once the bodies get flying around and both teams get chances, your energy gets going and both teams settled in and played a solid game.” Caps head coach Tim Schurman
“They got a lucky break on their first goal (by MacDonald),” said Schurman. “It went in off a guy’s face, and that doesn’t happen a lot.
“We haven’t had that kind of luck in a while. Usually if it goes off our guy’s face he breaks his jaw or something.”
Cavan Fitzgerald, Joey Colatarci and David Sweet replied for the Capitals, who finished the regular season fourth in the Roger Meek Division at 24-23-2-3. Assists were credited to Brad Power (2), Isaac Jay, Alex Bradley and Malik Johnson. The Capitals’ Thomas Stavert had a 14-game point streak snapped in the loss.
Overall, the Timberwolves outshot the Capitals 35-23, including 13-9 and 15-9 margins in the first two periods. Clint Windsor earned the goaltending win over Simon-Pier Chamberland.
Referees Josh McCormack and Scott McKay called seven minor penalties against each team. The Caps also received one game ejection for three stick infractions, and the Timberwolves were assessed one 10-minute misconduct.
The game’s three stars were:
1. Trey Lewis (Timberwolves), 2. Billy Gaston (Timberwolves), 3. Joey Colatarci (Capitals).
With 12 Capitals, including back-up goaltender Alex Kelly, in their first year of junior A hockey, Schurman said his young players “responded well” in their MHL playoff debuts.
“There is a jump in the intensity level and the importance of each and every shift,” said Schurman. “The first few minutes we were still a little nervous and not wanting to make a mistake.
“Once the game wore on guys settled back in and realized it’s just a hockey game, and focused on doing what got us here.”
On The Web
Journal Pioneer sports editor Jason Simmonds will have live updates of Game 2 between the Summerside Western Capitals and Miramichi Timberwolves at www.journalpioneer.com on Monday night.
Be sure to check out the Cover It Live feature on the right-hand side of the Journal Pioneer home page.