When the sting of the Game 7 loss to Edmundston wears off, the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals can look back at the past season as a huge success.
Going into the season, many thought the Caps would battle for a playoff spot, but ended up second in the Eastlink North Division, and gave the Blizzard one heck of a battle in the league semifinals.
Two overtime losses in that series — Games 3 and 5 — really stings. No doubt, if the Caps could have pulled out even one of the two, then they would be playing in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) championship series.
Instead, Yarmouth opens in Edmundston on Saturday, and the Caps are left to wonder what if?
Looking ahead to next year, the Caps have a lot to build on from this year. With only a handful of players graduating, they should be a solid contender once again. With Pat McIver running the show, there is little doubt about that.
The MHL final is a best-of-seven series, and if it goes the limit it will be one gruelling series for travel. It is a 10-hour bus ride from Yarmouth to Edmundston, and the teams are playing a 2,2,1,1,1 format.
One would think a 2-3-2 format would be the way to go, but sometimes common sense does not prevail. Some may argue if you lose one of the first two games, or both, you face too much of a battle facing three straight games in the other team’s rink.
However, championship teams win on the road and home.
The Charlottetown Islanders are on a roll as they await their next round opponent, quite likely the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada – the Quebec Major Junior League’s best regular-season team. The Armada will likely beat Moncton, setting up a date with Charlottetown.
There is usually a Cinderella and surprise team in most leagues, and the Islanders are that team. Full marks to the Islanders for their series wins over the Quebec Remparts and the Halifax Mooseheads. Winning two games each in Quebec and Halifax, two of the league’s toughest buildings to win in, is impressive.
The Islanders are brimming with confidence, and one never knows how far that can take them. We could possibly see an all-Maritime final for the first time since Moncton and Saint John met in 2011.
The Acadie-Bathurst Titan is awaiting their next opponent, which will be the winner of the Drummondville-Victoriaville series if the Armada go on to beat Moncton as expected. A Charlottetown–Acadie-Bathurst final would suit just fine.
The outpouring of support from across Canada and beyond for the Humboldt Broncos has been phenomenal. The GoFundMe campaign has surpassed the $10-million mark, and continues to grow.
It is great to see the overwhelming support for the Saskatchewan city of about 6,000 after that horrific bus crash that killed 16 people that either played or were a part of the Broncos’ junior A hockey team. It is the most difficult time in the lives of many from Humboldt, but it must be heartwarming when they see a nation decked out in hockey jerseys in a show of solidarity and support for the Broncos.
Canada, and especially the vast hockey community across North America, feel the pain with Humboldt and the Broncos. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragedy.
Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.