TIGNISH – It will be a special night for two members of the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals on Saturday.
Forward TJ Shea will return to his home community as the Caps host the Truro Bearcats at the Tignish Credit Union Arena in a neutral-site MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) contest scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The game also has extra significance for Caps’ rookie defenceman Thomas Harper, whose father, Scott, grew up in Tignish.
“I haven’t had the chance to play in Tignish in a while, since peewee or bantam,” said the 17-year-old Harper, whose mother, Tanya, is from nearby Elmsdale. “I am excited to be able to see family and friends and it’s my grandmother’s (Muriel Harper) birthday (Saturday), so I’m excited to go up and see them and play in front of them for the first time in a while.”
Shea, a business student at UPEI, says the game is a hot topic of conversation in the community.
“I’ve been up home for the last week for reading week, and everyone I see they are mentioning the game and how excited they are to come watch us play,” said Shea. “I am hearing lots about it.”
After sitting out Monday’s 7-1 win over the St. Stephen Aces with an injury, Shea confirmed he will be in the lineup on Saturday. The second-year Cap is enjoying a career season as he leads the MHL in points (97), goals (39) and assists (58). The 19-year-old son of Lloyd and Cora Shea of Anglo Tignish was recently named the Canadian Junior A Hockey League’s first star of the month for January, but he quickly downplayed that award.
“I am honoured to receive it, but I don’t really pay attention to all that stuff very much,” said Shea. “I didn’t do it by myself. I had help from my teammates to get me there, and I have to thank them.”
Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals’ first-year defenceman Thomas Harper has family ties to Tignish and West Prince. The Caps will host the Truro Bearcats in MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) action at the Tignish Credit Union Arena on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
There are an important two points at stake for both teams. Going into Friday’s play, the Caps, who are 28-15-1-0 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses), were seven points up on the Miramichi Timberwolves (22-15-3-3) in the race for home-ice advantage in the Eastlink North Division semifinals.
The Bearcats (23-17-1-1) entered Friday’s play 10 points up on the Pictou County Crushers (17-21-2-2) for the final playoff spot in the Eastlink South Division.
“Truro is also battling for a playoff spot as well, and they have been a real hot team as of late,” said Shea. “It’s going to be a good game to watch.”
The Caps and Bearcats have split the first two meetings this season. The Caps won 5-2 in Summerside on Jan. 7, and the Bearcats pulled out a 5-4 win in Truro, N.S., on Jan. 19.
“When it comes to playing Truro, they are a hard-working team in the corners and in battles,” said Harper, who has 10 points in 40 regular-season games in his rookie campaign. “I expect to see a fast-paced game with a lot of battles and hard work.
“It will be a physical game. The last time we played them in Truro it was a pretty heated game, and went right down to the wire.”