SUMMERSIDE – It was one of those games a team with championship aspirations finds a way to win.
The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals did just that, scoring four unanswered goals in overcoming a 2-0 second-period deficit en route to defeating the defending MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League)-champion Edmundston Blizzard 4-2 on Saturday night.
“It was a good character win for us,” said Capitals' third-year forward and assistant captain Brodie MacArthur of Summerside. “It obviously didn’t start like we wanted to, but we all rallied together in the first intermission and got things going.”
The Caps, who improved to 8-2-0 (won-lost-overtime losses) and have scored a league-leading 52 goals, hold a four-point lead over the second-place Campbellton Tigers (6-4-0) and are five clear of the Blizzard (5-5-1), Miramichi Timberwolves (5-5-1) and St. Stephen Aces (5-5-1), who visit Summerside on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Caps, who have played two fewer games, trail the Yarmouth Mariners (9-2-1) by three points in the overall standings.
“They (Blizzard) beat us last year in Game 7 (in Edmundston), and this year we want to do whatever we can to not let that happen again,” said MacArthur in addressing the importance of early-season wins and gaining home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
Before an announced crowd of 1,108 fans at Eastlink Arena, forward and team captain TJ Shea of Anglo Tignish scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Caps. It was Shea’s fourth multi-goal game this season, improving his league-leading point total to 29 – 14 goals and 15 assists.
“It wasn’t our best game,” acknowledged Shea, 20. “They came out strong in the first period, took it to us and got the lead early.
“We had to battle all game, and in the second period we really found our legs, started working as a team and things started to go our way.”
Sam Meisenheimer’s even-strength goal at 7:57 of the third period, which broke a 2-2 tie, proved to be the game-winner. Shea then sealed the win with an empty-net goal while short-handed with 18 seconds remaining after intercepting the puck in the neutral zone.
Noah Massie (2), Calum MacPherson and Conor MacEachern contributed assists for the Caps.
Sam King opened the scoring at 9:34 of the first period for Edmundston, which outshot the Caps 6-1 through the game’s first 6:32. Tristan Mercure netted Edmundston’s second power-play goal to make it 2-0 5:15 into the middle frame, but Shea got the Caps on the board at 18:49 to close the gap to 2-1 after 40 minutes.
MacArthur redirected Massie’s simple low wrist shot from the point on the power play to tie the game 4:43 into the third.
“We missed three power plays in the first period, and we knew we had to get one because they already had two (power-play goals), and that has been a big part of our game this year,” added the 19-year-old MacArthur, who is second in the league scoring race with 22 points – seven goals and 15 assists.
Overall, the Capitals outshot the Blizzard 43-34. Both goaltenders – Caps’ Dominik Tmej and Blizzard’s Francis Asselin – played strong games.
“We are finding ways on this winning streak to keep winning,” added Shea. “We are getting big saves, we are getting big plays or a big goal when we need it.”
Shea agreed with the assessment that Saturday’s game was the most physical of the three Caps’ regular-season home games as both teams handed out solid body checks.
“They weren’t giving us any ice,” assessed Shea. “They were making sure they were finishing their checks on us because we are a fast team so to slow us down they want to hit us.
“They were definitely physical, and it was a hard game to play.”
The game's three stars were:
1. TJ Shea (Capitals) – scored two goals, added an assist and logged a lot of ice time, especially in the third period.
2. Brodie MacArthur (Capitals) – scored a goal, had an assist. His power-play goal tied the game in the third period.
3. Noah Massie (Capitals) – contributed two assists while playing a strong game on the blue-line.