SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals made a huge statement Thursday night.
The Capitals, behind Dominik Tmej’s league-leading fifth shutout of the season, four points from TJ Shea of Anglo/Tignish and a two-goal performance by rookie defenceman Jordan Spence of Cornwall, posted a 4-0 victory over the Edmundston Blizzard, the MHL’s (Maritime Junior Hockey League) top team with 55 points.
“We played a pretty solid game for 60 minutes,” assessed a pleased Caps head coach Billy McGuigan. “Our penalty kill was good, we got a couple (of goals) on the power play and Dom stood the test.”
It was a big win for the Capitals, who improved to 22-13-1-0 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses). The second-place Caps closed to within 10 points of the Blizzard (26-8-3-0) in the Eastlink North Division, and opened up a five-point lead over the third-place Miramichi Timberwolves (18-11-2-2).
However, although the Caps had just defeated the MHL’s top team, McGuigan was stressing the importance of keeping the win in perspective.
“It’s a good feeling, but we move on after tonight (Thursday),” said McGuigan. “At the end of the day it’s another two points in the bank, and we move forward.”
Although the Caps were outshot 42-33 before 1,174 fans at Eastlink Arena, McGuigan felt his team played well defensively.
“I didn’t think we gave up a lot of quality (chances),” said McGuigan. “Yes, we gave up 42 shots, but a lot of them were from the outside. They had a couple of scoring chances from in tight, but Dom made those saves.”
Tmej’s busiest period was the second, when he turned aside all 19 shots directed his way by the Blizzard.
“We played a great team game,” said Tmej, who has a 1.94 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. “We also blocked a lot of shots. The shots could have been a lot worse if the boys did not sacrifice their bodies. It was a fun game to play in.”
Shea opened the game’s scoring at the eight-minute mark of the first period. Shea walked into the slot off the left wing and picked the far low corner to the glove side of Blizzard starting goaltender Myles Hektor, who had to deal with traffic in front.
Shea, who extended his point streak to 30 games, also chipped in with three assists for a four-point night to increase his league-leading point total to 86 – 34 goals and 52 assists.
The score remained 1-0 until the Caps struck for two goals 22 seconds apart in the middle frame. Brodie MacArthur of Summerside made it 2-0 at the eight-minute mark, and Spence made it a three-goal game at 8:22.
Spence closed out the scoring with a power-play marker at 16:01 of the third period.
MacArthur (2), who extended his point streak to 22 games, Spence, Sebastien Cormier and Austin Taylor contributed assists for the Capitals.
Hektor stopped 14 of 17 shots in 28:22 of action, and Francis Asselin turned aside 15 of 16 shots the rest of the way.
The game’s three stars were:
1. Dominik Tmej (Capitals), 2. Jordan Spence (Capitals), 3. TJ Shea (Capitals).
The Capitals are back in action on Saturday as they visit the St. Stephen County Aces (8-25-0-1). The Caps host the Aces in a make-up game on Tuesday at 7 p.m., and the Blizzard makes a return visit to Summerside on Thursday at 7 p.m.