SUMMERSIDE – The Pictou County Crushers struck early, and never trailed against the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals on Saturday evening.
The Crushers, who received a 38-save performance from goaltender Luke Melanson, jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the game was two minutes old, and skated away with a 4-3 win.
An announced crowd of 1,124 fans took in the Caps’ first home contest in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) in 34 days. The game was delayed around an hour due to issues with the Crushers’ bus.
“I thought we were real flat the first 20, or even 40 minutes,” assessed Capitals head coach Billy McGuigan following the game. “I don’t think we were our best, and the long layoff you can use that as an excuse, but as a coach I didn’t prepare the guys right.”
Brodie MacArthur, who was named the game’s third star, scored the Capitals’ first goal on a nifty move at 6:25 of the first period to make it 2-1.
The Crushers, who avenged a 5-2 loss to the Caps in New Glasgow, N.S., on Nov. 9, scored the only two goals of the second period to make it 4-1.
“We had a rough start,” acknowledged MacArthur.
Defenceman Brodie MacMillan slipped the puck into the net on a breakaway at 2:25 of the third period to make it a 4-2 game. Jordan Spence scored with 11 seconds remaining to bring the Caps to within a goal. Both third-period markers were scored on the power play.
“They obviously came here with a game plan, and knew we were short a couple of bodies, and they played us tough,” said MacArthur. “I feel like we deserved a better fate in the end.”
Overall, the Caps outshot the Crushers 40-24, including period advantages of 11-8, 12-10 and 17-6.
Jacob Hickey scored twice to lead the Crushers, who improved to 8-11-1-0 (won-lost-overtime losses). Kevin Mason and Giancarlo Fiori also scored, with other assists going to Jake Martin (3), Evan MacLennan and Jaden Mason.
Sebastien Cormier and TJ Shea, who extended his point streak to 11 games, drew helpers for the Caps (7-9-1-0).
Brayden Lachance started in goal for the Caps and gave up three goals on 10 shots in 21:53 of action before being relieved by Dominik Tmej, who stopped 13 of 14 shots the rest of the way.
The game’s three stars were:
1. Luke Melanson (Crushers), 2. Jacob Hickey (Crushers), 3. Brodie MacArthur (Caps).
The Caps are back in action on Thursday as the Valley Wildcats (6-11-0-1) visit Eastlink Arena for a 7 p.m. faceoff.