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Summerside Western Capitals’ Zach Thususka relishes playing physical style

Summerside Western Capitals forward Zach Thususka and Miramichi Timberwolves defenceman Jack DesRoches battle for position in front of Miramichi goaltender Stewart Bagnell during Saturday night’s MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) game at Eastlink Arena. Thususka and DesRoches are former teammates with the Kensington Wild major midget team.
Summerside Western Capitals forward Zach Thususka and Miramichi Timberwolves defenceman Jack DesRoches battle for position in front of Miramichi goaltender Stewart Bagnell during Saturday night’s MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) game at Eastlink Arena. Thususka and DesRoches are former teammates with the Kensington Wild major midget team. - Jason Simmonds
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

It’s not glamourous, it’s physically demanding and it’s not for everybody, but Zach Thususka relishes his role with the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals.

Summerside Western Capitals forward Zach Thususka and the Pictou County Crushers Ryan MacLennan compete for possession of the puck during a recent MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) game at Eastlink Arena. - Jason Simmonds
Summerside Western Capitals forward Zach Thususka and the Pictou County Crushers Ryan MacLennan compete for possession of the puck during a recent MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) game at Eastlink Arena. - Jason Simmonds

“I just try to do my job, getting pucks down deep, working the corners and be a hard player to play against,” said Thususka, who recently turned 20 and has one year of junior A eligibility remaining. “I like getting pucks out for my guys, and working down low. It’s the kind of game I’ve always played.”

Although the six-foot-one and 190-pound Thususka’s contributions may often go without any fanfare, it has earned him the respect and trust of the coaching staff.

“Zach Thususka is a big strong body, and one of our only physical, power forward type of players,” said Capitals head coach Billy McGuigan. “He’s been exceptional all year.

 “Zach is always heavy on pucks, he always finishes his checks and he’s one guy we can count on. Every night he is on the ice he is going to be hard to play against. He plays a real heavy game, he’s a great kid around the room, is a great kid in the community and he takes care of business when we need him.”

Thususka, who has three goals and six assists for nine points in 37 regular-season games in his sophomore campaign with his hometown Caps, agreed with the assessment that the more physical he is on the ice the better he plays.

“They always say get a hit to get into the game and move your feet,” said the son of Mike and Cathy Thususka, who can often be found battling for pucks along the walls, in the corners and battling for position in front of the net to provide a screen and be in a position for rebounds. “I just find physical games are more my style.”

McGuigan added: “When he’s involved physically, that’s when he’s having his best games. It’s one of those situations where he gets more engaged, and he starts finishing checks and he starts competing a little more. He’s a big part of our physicality.”

“I just try to do my job, getting pucks down deep, working the corners and be a hard player to play against. I like getting pucks out for my guys, and working down low. It’s the kind of game I’ve always played.”
-Western Capitals forward Zach Thususka

Added responsibilities

Thususka’s strong play is resulting in added responsibilities as the Caps enter the stretch drive to the playoffs, noted McGuigan.

“When you are coming back to a team you want to produce as much as you can and contribute,” said Thususka, who registered 14 points in 50 regular-season games in his rookie season with the Caps. “I am just trying my best to do that.”

With the Capitals sporting a league-leading 31-5-1 (won-lost-overtime losses), Thususka said the Caps are looking forward to finishing the regular season strong and embarking on what is hopefully a long playoff run.

“It’s been the goal from the start,” said Thususka, a seventh-round pick by the Caps in 2016. “(Winning a championship) is what we’ve been building for, and hopefully we can do it.”

Thususka understands what it takes to win a championship. He came to the Caps after winning two provincial major midget championships in three years with the Kensington Wild program. He was named the 2017 playoff most valuable player after registering nine points in seven games and playing a key role in leading the Wild back from a 3-1 deficit to a seven-game series win over the Charlottetown Pride.

“He’s a typical power forward,” said McGuigan.” He’s big, strong, he lugs the puck and is hard to play against. He finishes checks.

“That is what we ask of him every single night, and he does that every single night.”

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Western Capitals’ game day notebook

  • The Capitals host the Grand Falls Rapids in a make-up game at Eastlink Arena on Tuesday. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
  • The Capitals sit atop the Eastlink North Division and the MHL’s (Maritime Junior Hockey League) overall standings at 31-5-1. The Rapids are last in the six-team Eastlink North Division at 10-20-6. Grand Falls is six points back of fifth-place Miramichi (15-22-2) and seven back of the fourth and final playoff spot held by St. Stephen (15-22-3). The Rapids, however, do hold three games-in-hand on Miramichi and four on St. Stephen.
  • The Rapids are the last team to hand the Capitals a regulation-time loss – a 5-4 decision in Grand Falls, N.B.
  • Capitals forward Brodie MacArthur, who brings an 18-game point streak into Tuesday, leads the MHL in scoring with 81 points in 37 games.
  • Dominik Tmej, who is coming off a 41-save shutout against the Campbellton Tigers on Friday night, will get the start in goal for the Capitals. Tmej, who is 19-2-1 this season, leads the MHL in goals-against average (2.06), save percentage (.937) and shutouts (5).
  • Caps forward and team captain TJ Shea and defenceman Noah Massie are still listed as day-to-day with injuries.
  • This will be the first game of a home-and-home series between the Caps and Rapids. The teams are scheduled to meet in Grand Falls on Friday night, before the Caps travel to Edmundston to play back-to-back games against the Blizzard (20-14-4) on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
  • The Capitals have 13 regular-season games remaining.

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