SUMMERSIDE – It was a case of the glass half full and half empty for the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals on Thursday night.
The good news for the Capitals is they stayed with it and overcame a one-goal deficit in the third period en route to a 6-5 overtime win over the Miramichi Timberwolves. The bad news is the Caps allowed 3-0 and 4-1 leads to slip away, and trailed 5-4 early in the third period of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) contest.
“It really tested our tenacity and ability to fight in games,” said Capitals forward TJ Shea, who netted a hat trick and added an assist.
Before 974 fans at Eastlink Arena, Shea’s goal from in close 57 seconds into overtime lifted the Caps to victory.
When told after the game it appeared he fanned on the puck that eluded Timberwolves goaltender Tanner Somers on the game-winning goal, Shea smiled: “That is 100 per cent accurate. I was going on the forehand, but I missed it. My stick went over the puck and (Somers) kind of got fooled by it, and it fooled me. I saw it go in the back of the net, and I was just thrilled.”
The win improved the Caps’ record to 25-13-1-0 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses). The Caps are second in the Eastlink North Division, seven points ahead of the Timberwolves (19-12-3-3). Summerside also closed to within six points of the division- and league-leading Edmundston Blizzard (27-8-3-0).
Shea’s linemate, Brodie MacArthur, contributed five assists to improve his point total to 67 in 34 games. Sebastien Cormier (2) and Jordan Spence (1-1) also scored for the Caps, who received assists from Cameron Roberts, Austin Taylor and Josh MacDonald.
Mitchell Kreis (2), Matthew Kreis (1-2), Michael Thibault (1-1) and former Capital Jonathan Larter countered for the Timberwolves.
The Capitals jumped out to a 2-0 lead while outshooting the Timberwolves 18-5 in the opening 20 minutes. Summerside went ahead 3-0 and 4-1 in the middle frame, before Miramichi netted two late goals to close to within 4-3 after two.
Mitchell Kreis’s second goal of the 17 seconds into the third period tied the game, and former Capital Jonathan Larter gave Miramichi a 5-4 lead at 2:27. It was following Larter’s goal McGuigan called a timeout, and made a goaltending switch – Alex Bishop relieved starter Dominik Tmej, who faced 23 shots. Bishop stopped all 14 shots he faced. McGuigan acknowledged Tmej had no chance on some of the Miramichi goals, and he was looking to change the momentum.
“Billy corralled the guys (during the timeout), and got us motivated,” said Shea. “He said we were not out of it, and we have lots of time left. We built off that.”
Shea, who was set up by MacArthur, tied the game on a highlight-reel goal at 7:16. Shea undressed two Miramichi defenders and then deked Somers, which drew a loud cheer.
Shea, who has a league-leading 93 points in 39 games, acknowledged the Timberwolves were paying special attention to him on the ice.
“More and more, guys are starting to chirp and kind of whack and stuff like that,” explained Shea. “I don’t let it bother me. I put it in the back of my mind, and keep on playing the best I can.”
Overall, the Capitals outshot the Timberwolves 40-37.
The game’s three stars were:
1. TJ Shea (Capitals), 2. Brodie MacArthur (Capitals), 3. Matthew Kreis (Timberwolves).
The Caps visit the Campbellton Tigers (18-14-2-1) on Friday, and host the Blizzard (27-8-3-0) on Thursday at 7 p.m.