KENSINGTON – Contributions from all areas sparked the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild on Saturday night.
The Wild rode strong special teams, goaltending, defensive play and timely scoring to a 5-0 victory over the Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride in a hard-hitting New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League game that featured stretches of end-to-end action.
“It was a pretty good game for us for the most part,” said Wild assistant coach and former Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capital Brock Richard. “A few times (Charlottetown) took it to us, but we capitalized on our chances, and our special teams definitely helped us as well.”
The Wild scored three times on the man advantage, and killed off all four Charlottetown power plays, including one for four minutes in the first period.
“I thought we played pretty well,” offered Pride head coach Luke Beck, who felt the final score was not indicative of the game. “Sometimes the box score is indicative of the game, and sometimes it isn’t. I don’t think it was (Saturday).”
“They scored three power-play goals, and our power play wasn’t at its best. Down 3-0 going into the third is a long way to come back.
“I liked how our guys played in stints of it. We are certainly disappointed in the outcome, but we have always looked at the big picture with our group, and we will continue to build off some positives as we continue into the final stretch of the regular season.”
The win upped the second-place Wild’s record to 20-6-1 (won-lost-overtime losses). Kensington is seven points back of the league-leading Moncton Flyers (23-6-2), but has played four fewer games.
With the Wild and Pride meeting in a best-of-seven provincial championship series at the end of the regular season, and the New Brunswick teams battling in their own playoffs, has Kensington talked much about finishing first?
“We talk that it would be nice to get first place, but at the end of the day our goal is to win those four (playoff) games in March,” answered Wild goaltender Caleb Coyle of Summerside.
The Pride is 11-12-5 after dropping a 4-3 shootout decision to the Saint John Vitos (18-11-0) on Sunday.
Before an estimated 400 fans at Community Gardens, Coyle stopped 35 shots to earn his first shutout of the 2017-18 regular season.
“(Charlottetown) came out hard, but we were able to manage their original onslaught,” assessed Coyle, a Grade 12 student at Three Oaks Senior High School. “Our D did a good job, and we didn’t give up a whole lot of scoring chances.
“When they had pressure on us we managed to keep them to the outside. It was a good group effort by everybody.”
Colby MacArthur’s power-play goal 5:58 into the game opened the scoring.
The score remained 1-0 until the Wild struck for two late second-period goals. Clark Webster made it 2-0 on the power play at 15:03, and Evan Gallant, positioned by the hash marks along the boards on the left wing, made no mistake on a one-timer to make it 3-0 at 17:28.
“I thought the second period may have been the best period we played against these guys all year, even though the score may not have indicated it with them scoring two,” said Beck. “Our guys worked really hard, we did a much better job competing and winning the little battles within the game.
“We’ll draw on the positives, and certainly there was no Island championship given out (Saturday). Our guys are a mature group, and we’ll respond. . .”
Zac Arsenault (power play) and Gallant netted third-period goals.
Coyle faced 12 shots in the first period, 14 in the second and nine in the third.
“Coyle played great, and stopped some good opportunities for them at key times,” said Richard.
It was the seventh time during the 2017-18 regular-season that Coyle has allowed two or fewer goals. When asked to assess his game, Coyle answered: “I thought my rebound control could have been a little better. There are always little things to work on. All in all, it was a good night.”
It was the second shutout within a month for Coyle, 17. His first – 4-0 over Saint John on Jan. 13 – came in the quarter-finals of the Chronicle Herald East Coast Ice Jam tournament in Bedford, N.S.
“Playing against some good teams over there (in the Ice Jam), and playing well, definitely helps get the confidence up, and helps you believe in yourself,” said Coyle.
Recap of Wild and Pride game:
Final score: Wild 5, Pride 0
Scoring: Wild – Evan Gallant (2-1), Clark Webster (1-2), Zac Arsenault (1-1), Colby MacArthur.
Assists: Wild – Chandler Wood (2), Thomas Rennie, Ryan Richards, Marc Richard.
Period scores: 1-0 and 3-0 Wild.
Shots on goal: 39-35 Wild.
Goaltenders: Wild – Caleb Coyle; Pride – Ben Parent.
Penalties: Wild – two minors, one double minor for head contact and two 10-minute misconducts; Pride – two minors, one double minor for head contact and two 10-minute misconducts.
Next games: Wild – hosts Northern Moose on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Pride – at Moncton Flyers on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.