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Wild home opener goes Saturday vs. Saint John Vitos
A number of the faces are new and the team will play a different style than a year ago, but the goal remains the same for the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild.
“Like any coach says, you always want to be the hardest-working team on the ice,” said Kyle Dunn, who is in his sixth season as Wild head coach. “With the experience we have on this team, the guys know you are not just going to walk into a championship, or any type of success, without working hard. If you put the work in the success will follow.”
The 2019-20 edition of the Wild will host the Saint John Vitos in their New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League home opener on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“The team is going to be a little bit different this year,” said third-year Wild forward Landon Clow of Kelvin Grove. “I think we will be more defensively sound than offensive as we lost a lot of scoring power.
“We are hoping it turns out to be a great year again.”
Saturday will be the first time the Wild skates in their home rink this season. The arena’s opening was delayed as the ice had to be removed and reinstalled following a power outage caused by hurricane Dorian.
“But we will have the Kensington hometown crowd behind us and we’ll be ready to go,” said Dunn.
The Wild opened the regular season in Charlottetown on Friday night with eight returnees and 11 new faces on the team roster. Kensington won that game 6-4.
However, six of the newcomers – Alex Graham, Noah Griffin, Sam MacNeill, Seth MacLeod, Reid Vos and Jonah Arbing – played in the league last year as members of the Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride (now Knights).
“I think, overall, it is a strong team, we have a lot of depth and everybody is ready to go,” said third-year Wild forward Dixon MacLeod of Cornwall. “It seems like everybody is in tip-top shape.”
The Wild is coming off a highly successful season in which the team went 27-6-2 (won-lost-overtime losses) in the regular season; swept Charlottetown in the provincial championship series; won the 2018 Monctonian AAA Challenge; lost an overtime decision in the title game of the Chronicle Herald East Coast Ice Jam tournament; became the first team from Atlantic Canada to qualify for the playoffs for the CCM Challenge tournament in Quebec, and advanced to the final of the Atlantic major midget hockey championship in Charlottetown, where they lost to the Halifax Macs.
The biggest question facing the Wild this season is scoring. How does the team replace the 359 points that were generated by 12 players who have moved on from last year’s squad?
“It’s going to be scoring by committee and everybody pulling on the rope in the same direction,” answered Dunn. “It’s not just the guys who end up on the scoresheet who are going to be important.
“It’s the blocked shots, it’s the back-checking and all those things that add up to a victory that we are expecting guys to do.”
Thus, the coaching staff is stressing the importance of a strong and consistent work ethic.
“Last year, we had the luxury of taking a shift, or period, off here and there,” said Dunn. “With this team we can’t afford to take shifts, or periods, off and expect to win hockey games.
“I think there will be a little more parity in the league this year. As coaches, we are going to have to be prepared to get our guys going every game.”
Clow, who recorded 28 points in 35 regular-season games, had a strong Atlantic championship and was a 2019 territorial selection of the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey League, is one player who’s looking to step up his game.
“Us third-year players have to be that much better,” said Clow, 17. “We have to lead the way and set the pace.”
Forward Duncan Picketts, who is in his second season with the Wild and in his final year of midget eligibility, relishes the role of working in the trenches.
“We will have to be hard working, hustle in on the forecheck a lot and bang in those greasy goals,” said Picketts, 16. “We will have to be a lot more blue-collar team and will have to work hard to have success.”
Based on what he’s seen through training camp, MacLeod is optimistic entering the new campaign.
“The team is younger this year and it seems like everybody is going to fit in,” said MacLeod, 17. “It’s going to be more of a muck-and-grind style, but there is a lot of skill as well. It should be a great season.”
Picketts, along with Clow and MacLeod, all understand the team’s veterans will be looked upon for leadership, both on and off the ice.
“With each year comes a bigger role,” offered Picketts, who also lives in Kelvin Grove. “Being a third-year (midget) I will try to do as much as I can for the team and help the younger guys get comfortable.
“Once you are comfortable, you will play a lot better.”
- Click here for training camp update story:
- Click here for story on Kensington Wild at pre-season jamboree:
- Click here for story on Wild training camp:
- Click here for story on Charlottetown Knights:
Head coach Kyle Dunn comments on Kensington Wild roster:
“Jonah came from Charlottetown and Josh had a great record last year and got to see what Chad Arsenault did last year. We have two major midget goaltenders and we challenge both guys to want to be that big-game player. Hopefully, we can get into those games and they make our job difficult.”
“We have three guys who played major midget last year (Proud, McQuaid, MacLeod) and three first-year guys. We are going to lean on those returnees to help out the first-year guys.”
“We lost a lot of firepower up front with graduating players and losing guys to junior. We have a good fill of experienced guys in the league. We have some experience that played major midget and know what it takes to compete at this level.”
Players who moved on from last year’s Kensington Wild:
G A Pts
Colby MacArthur 21 35 56
Ryan Richards 14 29 43
Bennett MacArthur 21 14 35
Zac Arsenault 13 19 32
Ethan Beaulieu 3 21 24
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
(Current team in parenthesis)
G A Pts
Keiran Gallant (Charlottetown) 17 24 41
Jack Campbell (Drummondville) 10 19 29
Maritime Junior Hockey League
(Current team in parenthesis)
G A Pts
Lucas Parsons (Truro) 17 14 31
Zach Biggar (Summerside) 4 24 28
Isaac Wilson (Summerside) 10 17 27
W L OL GAA Sv%
Chad Arsenault 13 4 1 2.43 .922
N.B./P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League
G A Pts
Simon Hughes (Charlottetown) 7 6 13
- Upcoming games for Kensington Wild:
- Saturday, Sept. 21
- Saint John at Kensington, 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Sept. 28
- Fredericton at Kensington, 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, Oct. 4
- Kensington at Saint John, 8 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 5
- Charlottetown at Kensington, 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 6
- Kensington at Moncton, 1:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 12
- Moncton at Kensington, 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 13
- Kensington at Northern (Bathurst, N.B.), 2 p.m.