SUMMERSIDE – Pat McIver knows that if the Summerside Western Capitals want to increase attendance, the on-ice product will play a big role.
“Moving forward, our goal is to win,” said the Caps general manager during a media conference at Credit Union Place on Tuesday morning that introduced Trent Birt as the team’s new vice-president of business operations. “There are 12 teams that all have the same goal, and right now I bet all 12 teams think they have a chance of winning the Kent Cup this year and the Fred Page Cup (Eastern Canadian junior A hockey championship). We are no different.”
While Birt has been hired to grow the team’s business operation and connection with local communities, McIver is entering his fifth season with the Caps, who have won two MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) championships in 2011 and 2013, and advanced to the final of the 2013 RBC Cup national championship under his watch.
Coming off an RBC Cup-hosting season, McIver had to make some tough decisions that included trading some popular veterans for the long-term health of the franchise.
“The ownership group backed us 100 per cent, and it wasn’t an easy thing for them as first year as owners to trade out your two co-captains and a bunch of other veteran players,” said McIver. “The reality is for us to attain our goal of getting back to the RBC Cup, we had to make those tough decisions.
“I commend the ownership group for allowing us to make those decisions, and we’re a better hockey club today. . . It gave our young players a chance to play a lot more and develop a lot more, and we are that much closer to our goal than we were this time last year.”
After winning just four of their first 15 games, the Capitals went on to post a very respectable record of 24-23-2-3 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses).
“We weren’t an easy two points for anybody,” said Capitals head coach Tim Schurman. “Even though we lost 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs, if you ask (head coach) Robert MacDonald of the (Miramichi) Timberwolves they had to earn every inch, and we were right there with them.
“Our goal for this season is to continue taking gradual steps. . . we want to see our players improve their games and commit to being a team. That’s what made us successful last year.
“We are looking forward to see how the guys come together again this season, and hopefully we take a couple of more steps towards our ultimate goal.”
Training camp starts in less than three weeks on Aug. 25.
“We have some commitments from guys we have announced, we have some more commitments from guys we are going to announce in the next couple of weeks and everybody is working hard to get to that ultimate goal,” said McIver. “From my experience with this team, the years we are successful on the ice seems to be the years when people come to the rink.
“I know that has a lot to do with the on-ice product, and we are definitely working hard to put out a good on-ice product.”
Summerside Western Capitals general manager Pat McIver speaks during a media conference at Credit Union Place on Tuesday morning.
©Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer