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Without doubt there are a number of deciding factors in teams winning a Don Johnson Memorial Cup.
One of the most important, say two coaches who have experience at the Atlantic junior B hockey championship, is managing the minutes of players over the six-day tournament.
“Junior hockey players are not used to playing a game every single day, and in some cases two games a day,” said Nathan DesRoches, head coach of the three-time P.E.I.-champion Western Red Wings. “There needs to be management. Really, there is a lot of coaching involved in terms of making sure everybody is fresh and focused.
“A lot of people think of it as a physical thing and it is physically demanding, but it is a mentally demanding tournament to play that many games in that short of time. For us, I’m interested, as a coach, to see how experience plays in on it. At the same time, as coaches, we are focused on keeping everybody fresh and their minds on hockey for that week.”
Wade Waddell, head coach of the host Kensington Vipers, agrees with DesRoches.
“When you play every day you don’t want guys playing 30, 35 minutes,” said Waddell. “We are hoping the depth that we have will pay off come Friday, Saturday.”
Participating teams in 2019 Don Johnson Memorial Cup
- Host – Kensington Vipers.
- P.E.I. – Western Red Wings.
- New Brunswick – Moncton Vitos.
- Nova Scotia – Sackville Blazers.
- Newfoundland and Labrador – CBR Renegades.
The 2019 regional championship gets underway at Credit Union Centre on Tuesday as the Red Wings take on the Vipers at 7 p.m. Round-robin action kicks into high gear on Wednesday as the provincial champions from New Brunswick (Moncton Vitos), Nova Scotia (Sackville Blazers) and Newfoundland and Labrador (CBR Renegades) all see their first action.
Round-robin play concludes Friday night, with the top four teams advancing to Saturday’s semifinals. The final is Sunday afternoon.
A quick glance at the Don Johnson Memorial Cup
- The Atlantic junior B hockey championship tournament will be played at Credit Union Centre in Kensington.
- The tournament features the provincial champions from P.E.I., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, along with the host Kensington Vipers.
- The teams will play a single round robin.
- The top four teams will advance to Saturday’s semifinals. The first-place team will take on the fourth-place team while the second- and third-place teams will meet.
- The championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m.
One huge advantage of having the two P.E.I. teams opening play Tuesday is that the Vipers and Red Wings avoid having to play two games in a one day.
“It’s a huge factor, especially coming on the end of the week,” said Waddell. “When we were on the road I always liked playing two in one day right off the bat so you would be fresher at the end.
“I always found we struggled when we played two games later on in the week. It is a big advantage for both us and Western to play just one game a day. It’s a short week, things move fast and our goal has always been the same – get to the weekend and go from there.”
The Red Wings experienced how the schedule can catch up to teams at the 2018 regional championship in Membertou, N.S.
“I’m definitely not making excuses for last year, we were beaten by a better team in the semfinals, but our two-game day was Friday and we were toast,” said DesRoches. “We had a really emotional game Friday night against the host team and to come back and play a semifinal game the next afternoon, reality was it was just too much.”
DesRoches added the Red Wings are hoping to benefit from a strong emphasis on physical conditioning.
“Our hockey team is in really good shape this year, much better than other seasons,” said DesRoches. “I’m hoping that pays off in the long run.”
Don Johnson Memorial Cup schedule
All games in Kensington:
Tuesday, April 23
- 7 p.m. – Kensington Vipers vs. Western Red Wings.
Wednesday, April 24
- Noon – Sackville Blazers vs. CBR Renegades.
- 4 p.m. – Western Red Wings vs. Moncton Vitos.
- 8 p.m. – Kensington Vipers vs. CBR Renegades.
Thursday, April 25
- Noon – Moncton Vitos vs. Sackville Blazers.
- 4 p.m. – Western Red Wings vs. CBR Renegades.
- 8 p.m. – Kensington Vipers vs. Sackville Blazers.
Friday, April 26
- Noon – Moncton Vitos vs. CBR Renegades.
- 4 p.m. – Western Red Wings vs. Sackville Blazers.
- 8 p.m. – Kensington Vipers vs. Moncton Vitos.
End of round robin.
Saturday, April 27
- 3 p.m. – semifinal.
- 7 p.m. – semifinal.
Sunday, April 28
- 2 p.m. – championship game.