SUMMERSIDE – It was the perfect start to a busy three days for the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals.
TJ Shea recorded five points – a hat trick and three assists – and goaltender Dominik Tmej stopped 28 shots for his second consecutive shutout as the Caps blanked the St. Stephen Aces 7-0 on Thursday night.
“We played a well-structured game, we were on top of the puck all night and that allowed us to create some offence,” explained Shea, who has now recorded 37 points during a current 14-game point streak.
Shea increased his lead atop the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) scoring race over Logan O’Neill of the South Shore Lumberjacks to nine points. Shea has 43 points in 20 regular-season games, and O’Neill has 34 points in 23 contests.
The Caps improved to 10-9-1-0 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses) and opened up a six-point lead over the Aces (7-16-0-1) for the fourth and final playoff berth in the Eastlink North Division. The Caps also have four games-in-hand on St. Stephen, and closed to within two points of the third-place Miramichi Timberwolves (10-8-2-1).
Summerside travels to Miramichi, N.B., on Friday for a key Eastlink North Division showdown with the Timberwolves, and returns home to host the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League)-leading South Shore Lumberjacks (18-5-0-0) on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“We have two good tests coming up,” said Caps head coach Billy McGuigan. “They are going to be two tough games, and this is the game we wanted to win and secure the two points.”
At Eastlink Arena, Tmej lowered his goals-against average to 0.91 while extending his shutout streak to 133:07. Tmej, who has a save percentage of .970, has a 3-1 record, with his lone loss coming in relief.
Shea got the Caps off and running 2:17 into the first period, and rookie Zach Thususka made it 2-0 at 16:33.
“It was key getting the lead at the start,” said Shea, a 19-year-old native of Anglo/Tignish. “That really helps the momentum, and Dom made a few nice saves to keep us in it and keep it close before we pulled away.”
Back-to-back power-play goals by Brodie MacArthur (2:44), who had a four-point night, and Shea (6:06) broke the game open early in the second period.
Shea capped the hat trick on a nifty deke move on a breakaway at 12:09. He made a move to his right and tucked the puck home between the post and the outstretched left leg of Aces goaltender Zachary LeBlanc.
The line of Shea (3-2), MacArthur (2-2) and Roberts (1-2) combined for 12 points against the Aces as the Caps have scored 17 goals in their last three games.
“The goals are coming and we are getting a little bit of production from everywhere,” said McGuigan. “But that Roberts, Shea, MacArthur line has been excellent the last couple of games. Roberts’s confidence as a young player has just grown.”
A recap of Caps-Aces’ game:
Final score – Caps 6, Aces 1.
Scoring – Caps: TJ Shea (3-2), Brodie MacArthur (2-2), Cameron Roberts (1-2), Zach Thususka.
Assists – Caps: Jordan Spence (2), Sebastien Cormier, Brodie MacMillan.
Period scores – 2-0 and 4-0 in favour of the Capitals.
Shots on goal – 35-28 for the Capitals.
Goaltenders – Caps: Dominik Tmej (28/28); Aces: Jack Grant (12/16, 26:06), Zachary LeBlanc (16/19, 13:54).
Affiliated players – Caps: Calvin MacRae (Arsenault’s Fish Mart Western Red Wings); Aces: Evan Gallant (Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild).
Moment of silence – The Caps held a moment of silence in memory of former team trainer Fred Ripley, who passed away earlier this week.
Three stars – 1. TJ Shea (Caps), 2. Dominik Tmej (Caps), 3. Brodie MacArthur (Caps).
Attendance – 601.