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ON THE 11th HOUR: when the war went quiet
Charlottetown native enjoyed playing back on the Island in 2018-19 with Summerside Western Capitals
Conor MacEachern got a taste of playing hockey at a high level on Prince Edward Island last season and wants to add more to his resumé.
He’ll get that opportunity wearing the jersey of a team he grew up watching. The graduate of the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals has committed to patrolling the blue-line for the UPEI Panthers this fall.
“Playing in Summerside was awesome. We had a great team with a great group of guys,” MacEachern said. “It was my first winter at home since I was 14 or 15. It just made me realize how much I miss this place and wanted to do it for another four or five years.”
The son of David (Eli) MacEachern and Triona Harrop left the Island to play his second year of midget for the Prince George Caribou Cougars in British Columbia. Harrop is from Prince George.
During that season, MacEachern was added to the Portland Winterhawks’ protected list and he transitioned the following year to the Western Hockey League (WHL) squad.
MacEachern started the 2018-19 season as an overage player with Portland but when Joachim Blichfeld came back from the San Jose Sharks’ camp, MacEachern was the odd man out. He was placed on waivers and quickly caught the attention of the Capitals’ brass.
“From the start, I felt really wanted there,” MacEachern said.
The puck-moving defencemen, who is adept in both ends of the rink, finished the season with 48 points in 45 games while logging lots of minutes which, he said, helped him develop his game.
He had discussions with Panthers’ head coach Forbes MacPherson during the season about the possibility of joining them after his junior career ended.
“Forbie was great to me,” MacEachern said. “Knowing what the organization is all about made it a pretty easy decision for me.”
MacPherson said he has been tracking MacEachern for a few years.
“He’s a big kid who skates very well. He has three years of WHL experience in a high-end program with a very good coach,” he said, referring to former NHL bench boss Mike Johnston.
MacPherson said there’s always a transition for players coming from junior to the Atlantic University Sport (AUS), known as the best university hockey conference in the country.
“We’re excited about potentially what his ceiling could be, but you also have to be cautious of timelines just because of how good our league is,” he said. “We just see him being an impact player in this league over time.”
MacEachern played with T.J. Shea last year in Summerside and has trained during the off-season the past few years with Kameron Kielly. He also knows defencemen Tanner McCabe and Alex McQuaid. All will play for the Panthers this fall.
“They made it very easy coming onto the team,” MacEachern said.
He is joining a Panthers’ blue-line that was boosted a year ago by the additions of Owen Headrick, Doug Blaisdell and Andrew Picco. It came after UPEI played short of bodies on the back end the previous year.
“We had a really good recruiting last year in adding three bonafide AUS players,” MacPherson said. “There’s no question that Conor is going to add to that depth now and add some more layers to our D corps that we’re excited about.”
MacEachern used to go the Panthers games growing up.
“I was just amazed by how good the hockey was and I just always thought if I could ever be playing here, I’d be in a good spot,” he said. “I’m super excited to get things started.”
Who – A Charlottetown hockey player who will play for the UPEI Panthers this fall and study business.
Age, position – 20, defenceman.
Size – Six-foot-four, 200 pounds.
Nationals – The Panthers will host the 2021 U Sports men’s hockey championship. “Even though it was an easy decision to commit to UPEI, when Forbie (MacPherson) told me we would be hosting in my second year it just made me feel like I had made the right decision and made me that much more excited.”
Brothers – MacEachern is the oldest of three boys. Declan is attending the Rimouski Oceanic camp while Seamus just turned 13 and is entering his first year of bantam.
A look at the announced recruits for the UPEI Panthers men’s hockey team. The list includes who they finished last season playing for:
F Jordan Mahar, Charlottetown Islanders
F Jesse Sutton, Acadie-Bathurst Titan
F T.J. Shea, Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals
D Conor MacEachern, Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals