CHARLOTTETOWN – This is the season the Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride has worked all year for.
The Pride opens the best-of-seven provincial major midget hockey championship series against the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild at Credit Union Centre in Kensington, previously Community Gardens, on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Game 2 is at MacLauchlan Arena on the UPEI campus on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The series winner will represent P.E.I. at the Atlantic championship in Lantz, N.S., from March 29 to April 1.
“We are excited to get it started,” said the Pride’s Luke Beck, who was named the coach of the year in the New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League earlier this week. “It’s a fresh start for two teams to go out and showcase where they are at, and battle for an Island championship.
“It’s an exciting time of the year for our group. We can’t wait for Friday night.”
The Pride completed regular-season play fourth in the six-team loop at 17-13-5 (won-lost-overtime losses). Charlottetown enters the playoffs on a six-game winning streak, including a 3-2 come-from-behind overtime win over the Wild in Charlottetown on Feb. 15.
“We’ve been happy with our team for the last 2 ½ months, almost dating back to the Monctonian (in November),” said Beck. “We take the approach of a day at a time, and continue to get better every day. What you’ve seen over the last four to six weeks is a product of the big picture coming together.
“It’s a true credit to our kids for sticking with it through the long winter, buying in and committing to a rigorous schedule that we had. We didn’t have one home game in January, and I think we played 15 games, and they came to the rink every day with a positive attitude willing to work. Really happy with how they finished their season, and look forward to this series.”
When asked if he’s expecting a high or low-scoring series against the Wild, Beck quipped, “Just hoping to score more than them.”
Beck went on to say: “Both teams have shown throughout the year they have the ability to score goals, and both teams have also shown the ability to win the tight games. We don’t typically play an open run-and-gun game, but we’ll address that as we go along. It’s midget hockey, and anything can happen.
“You look at last year’s playoffs, I don’t think we scored six goals in a game until Game 3 up there, and in Game 7 we couldn’t score. We just want to focus on playing how we like to play as a group, and believing in the process that we have as a group to be successful.”
Beck says the Pride is “confident in our group” entering the playoffs.
“We have two really good goalies who throughout the year have played really, really well,” assessed Beck. “We have six D who can play in all three situations, whether it’s even strength, short-handed or on the power play, and depth throughout our forward lines. We have used every guy in different scenarios throughout the year to help prepare us for this time of the year.”
A look at the Charlottetown Pride:
Points: Connor McGregor, 40.
Goals: Connor McGregor, 23.
Assists: Kennedy Gallant, 22.
Power-play goals: Connor McGregor, 6.
Power-play assists: Cole Larkin, 9.
Penalty minutes: Kennedy Gallant, 91.
Ben Parent, 9-9-2, 1 SO, 3.07 GAA, .913 save percentage.
Erik MacInnis, 7-1-3, 1 SO, 2.55 GAA, .915 save percentage.
Last 10 games: 6-2-2.
Goals for: 109.
Goals against: 107.
Shots for: 1,051.
Shots against: 1,166.
Power play: 25/186 (13 per cent).
Penalty killing: 164/202 (81 per cent).