KENSINGTON – The Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride could not have picked a better time to earn their first win of the 2017-18 season in Kensington.
The Pride, who lost all four regular-season games and Game 1 of the playoffs in Kensington, edged the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild 3-2 on Saturday night in Game 3 of the best-of-seven provincial major midget hockey championship series. The Wild, who won the first two games 8-1 and 6-2, now lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.
“You can’t win four until you get the first one,” said Pride head coach Luke Beck in a post-game interview with the Journal Pioneer. “Our kids showed up (Saturday), and it was a really good game.
“They battled back and pushed us, and I thought our guys stood tall in the third period. This is a rink we haven’t had much success in this year, and for two reasons it is a big win for our group – to cut the series in half, and know that we can win up here.”
The Pride will have an opportunity to pull even on home ice at MacLauchlan Arena on the UPEI campus in Charlottetown on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Game 5 will be back in Kensington on Saturday, March 17, at 7:30 p.m. The winner of this series will represent P.E.I. at the Atlantic major midget hockey championship in Lantz, N.S., from March 29 to April 1.
“It’s kind of the same old stuff,” said Beck. “We are going to take it one day at a time, one game at a time. That will be the plan going back home Wednesday.”
Before some estimated 500-plus fans at Credit Union Centre in Kensington, previously Community Gardens, special teams played a big factor for the Pride. Charlottetown killed off the game’s first two power plays by the Wild, and Grant MacAdam opened the scoring with a short-handed goal at 16:59 of the first period. That goal gave the Pride their first lead in the series.
Seth Morris found the back of the net at 18:18 to send the Pride into the first intermission ahead 2-0. Rookie Cole Larkin’s power-play goal at 2:02 of the second period gave the Pride a 3-0 lead.
“We kind of entered the zone and Ed McNeill gave me a good pass in the centre (of the ice),” explained the 15-year-old Larkin, who played with the Eastern Express of the P.E.I. Major Bantam AAA Hockey League last season. “I knew there was a guy on him and a guy on me, and I just walked more to the middle and I tried to get a shot on net and it trickled in.”
The Wild answered back with two late goals by Ryan Richards (14:59) and Ethan Beaulieu (19:58) to make it a 3-2 game after 40 minutes, setting the stage for a scoreless third period.
Erik MacInnis turned in a solid performance in earning the goaltending victory. Caleb Coyle took the loss, and it was the first time in nine regular-season and playoff games that he has allowed more than two goals.
After giving up 14 goals in the first two games, Beck liked how the Pride played defensively, and protected the one-goal lead in the final 20 minutes.
“We knew we couldn’t keep giving up that many if we knew we were going to stay in the series,” said a smiling Beck. “Our guys did a lot of good things in the D zone, and we got really good goaltending from Erik. He’s had a long road back to recovering (from a knee injury), and we couldn’t be happier for him to get a big win for our club.”
Despite being down two games, Larkin said the Pride entered Game 3 in a positive frame of mind.
“Obviously, we weren’t too happy with how we played, but we had a good week practising,” said Larkin. “The mood coming into (Saturday) was pretty good, and we were all pretty confident coming into this game.”