The P.E.I. Major Bantam AAA Hockey League is set to kick off another season this weekend.
The league opener will be played in O’Leary on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 2:30 p.m.
The opener will feature last year’s finalists — Island champs Prince County Warriors and runner-up Central Attack.
Also on Sunday in Crapaud, the Mid-isle Matrix will host Eastern Express at 4:30 p.m.
Following is a team-by-team preview for the season ahead:
Prince County Warriors
This year, the Prince County Warriors aim to have yet another successful season under the guidance and leadership of their leader Cody McCormack. As a returnee from last year’s provincial champion team, the Warriors will look to McCormack to lead the younger core and teach them the importance of getting better every day.
With a big and strong defensive group, the Warriors hope to get a balance attack from the forward group up front, which is made up of a mixture of first- and second-year bantam players — all of which can play fast and aggressive.
Lastly, in net — first-year Kiefer Thompson and second-year Nylan Hustler will look to guard the gate. These two will work under the eyes of new goalie coach Luke Oliver — a recent draft pick of the Summerside Capitals and current goalie for the Western Red Wings junior B club.
This team is approaching the season with high expectations.
The team will be returning eight players from last year’s team, including goalie Jack Howatt who will be sharing the goaltending duties with Sherwood first-year standout Shannon Macdonald. Defencemen Will Morrison, Landon Macdonald and Isaac Vos will anchor the blue-line with first-year players Nathan Mossey and Luke Coughlin.
Returning forwards are Kal White, Jamie Collins, Colby Huggan and Tyler Worth.
Four players from the Central Attack bantam AA team, including Bates Ling, Damien Boyle, Chris Keoughan and Keegan Callaghan, have graduated to the next level for the upcoming season.
Rounding out the lineup are peewee AAA players from last year’s provincial champion Charlottetown Abbies. These include Brett Arsenault, Cam Squires, Max Sentner and Jonah Macdonald.
The Attack have moved their home games to the MacLauchlan Arena in Charlottetown at 1:40 p.m. on Saturday afternoons.
Express will be looking for a lot of energy and enthusiasm from a very young roster.
The forward group is led by veterans Holden Bradley and Avery Brown while the defence is anchored by stalwart Sam Worth. They will be looking for solid goaltending from duo of Nathan Bailey and Ethan Smith.
The Mid-Isle Matrix has 13 fresh faces on the roster so the coaching staff will rely heavily on the six returning players for their leadership on and off the ice.
Work ethic will be key in the team’s success this season as there is a good mixture of size and skill throughout the lineup.
The teams will be battling for the provincial championship and to represent P.E.I. at the Atlantic championships being held April 4-7 in Nova Scotia.