KENSINGTON – The Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild expected big things from forward Evan Gallant in the playoffs, and the Abram-Village native did not disappoint.
Gallant scored five goals in the first two games, assisted on the game-winning goals in Games 4 and 5 and was named the most valuable player of the P.E.I. major midget hockey championship series as the Wild defeated the Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride 4-1 in the best-of-seven matchup.
“It was exciting (to be named MVP), but I was more worried about getting the big trophy,” said the 17-year-old son of Jamie and the late Yvette Gallant.
Wild head coach Kyle Dunn praised Gallant’s work ethic and contributions.
“Evan is a guy who comes to the rink and puts a lot of time in,” said Dunn. “He made some big contributions in the playoffs. He played big minutes, whether it be penalty kill, power play and a regular shift, and it’s good to see him get rewarded.”
Hockey P.E.I. president Barry Thompson presents Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild forward and assistant captain Evan Gallant with the most valuable player award for the 2018 P.E.I. major midget hockey championship series. The Wild defeated the Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride 4-1 in the best-of-seven set.
Gallant admitted things got tougher as the series went along.
“The first few games I had more room out there, but they tightened up their D and things got a little tougher in the other three games,” said Gallant, a draft pick of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Charlottetown Islanders and St. Stephen Aces of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League).
The Wild won the first two games 8-1 and 6-2, before the Pride showed they weren’t going to go quietly and pulled out a 3-2 road win in Game 3. Kensington actually trailed Game 4 2-1 early in the third period, but the Wild rallied for four goals and a 5-2 win in Charlottetown. Gallant and rookie defenceman William Proud set up Ryan Richards’s winning goal with just under seven minutes remaining.
Gallant and Isaac Callaghan assisted on Chandler Wood’s championship-clinching tally 3:27 into overtime in a 3-2 win on Saturday night. That goal came after the Pride erased a 2-0 third-period deficit.
“It was one of those games where one bad bounce ends up in the back of our net (to tie the game),” said Gallant in addressing the team’s mood after Charlottetown pulled even. “No one was panicking, it was stick to the game plan, play our game and try to get the last goal.”
Looking back, Gallant said the Pride’s win in Game 3 and Wild rally in Game 4 were key points in the series.
“We realized it was not going to be a walk in the park, and we are going to have to work for every game,” said Gallant, a Grade 12 student at Evangeline School. “Then when we were down in Game 4 and came back in the third period, that was huge.”
Gallant, forward Frank Fortin and defenceman and team captain Clark Webster are in select company of having won three provincial major midget championships in a row.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling,” acknowledged Gallant. “Not many players are able to do a three-peat, and we’ve had a great bunch of guys to do it with. It’s been a really fun three years.”
Back to work
The Wild was right back to work at practice on Monday night, and have workouts scheduled for Wednesday and Friday of this week as they prepare to represent P.E.I. at the Atlantic major midget hockey championship in Lantz, N.S., from March 29 to April 1.
“We just have to play our game, and don’t try to be someone we are not,” said Gallant. “It’s faster hockey, and we just have to do what we did all year and play a full 60 minutes.”