SUMMERSIDE – If there is a country music song that currently suits the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals, it may very well be the Willie Nelson classic On The Road Again!
The Capitals, who are 14-10-1-0 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses), will close out their pre-Christmas schedule in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) with games at the Edmundston Blizzard (20-4-3-0) on Friday and Woodstock Slammers (6-16-3-1) on Saturday, which will mark Summerside’s fourth road game in eight days.
“It’s going to be a tough weekend for us for sure,” said McGuigan. “It’s two division rivals, and the new rink in Edmundston has a great atmosphere and is a great place to play.”
Excluding a home and away game during the MHL Showcase in Summerside in October, the Caps will go into the Christmas break with 15 road games to their credit.
However, the Caps will begin a stretch of eight of 11 games on home ice against the Campbellton Tigers (14-10-2-0) on Dec. 30, and 14 of their final 23 regular-season contests will be at Eastlink Arena.
McGuigan said the Caps enter Friday with nine regular forwards and three regular defenceman. Defenceman Brodie MacMillan and forward Kallum Muirhead, who could possibly return from an injury on Saturday, will miss Friday’s game due to exams.
McGuigan noted, for Friday’s game, the Caps have called up defencemen Clark Webster and Ethan Beaulieu from the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild of the New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League, and forward Riley Gallant of the Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers of the Island Junior Hockey League.
MacMillan is expected to play on Saturday while Webster and Beaulieu will return home for the Wild game versus Saint John at Community Gardens.
“We will try to will our way through a couple of more games this weekend with a short staff,” said McGuigan.
McGuigan admitted it was a tough week for the Caps after learning the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rights of goaltender Dominic Tmej had been traded by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to the Quebec Remparts.
The trade will be made official once the trading period opens next week, and McGuigan said the current plan is for Tmej to join the Remparts after Christmas.
In nine games with the Caps, Tmej has a 5-1-1 record, four shutouts, a sparkling 1.56 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage.
“We take a lot of pride in development, a lot of pride in sending players to the next level and I think our program is second to none in doing that,” said McGuigan. “You look over the years since (general manager) Pat (McIver), associate coach) Thomas Waugh, (strength and conditioning coach) Joe Borden and I have been around here, I think we have had 55 kids go on to the next level.
“This is just another case of us bringing a goalie in who wasn’t in a great situation in Bathurst as the third guy, and he wasn’t getting a chance to play. He comes here, gets an opportunity and has a good team playing in front of him and we lose him. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we’ll move on.”
So are the Caps now asking Santa Claus for a goaltender?
“Santa is always good to us,” chuckled McGuigan. “We will find a way. It always works out.”