SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals are ready to celebrate P.E.I. Minor Hockey Week.
The MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) team, which features 16 players from P.E.I., has announced that any minor hockey player from across Canada’s smallest province wearing their team jersey, and accompanied by an adult, will be admitted to Thursday’s home game against the nationally-ranked Edmundston Blizzard free of charge. Puck drop at Eastlink Arena is 7 p.m.
“We are pretty proud of the fact we have so many Islanders, and have players from tip to tip,” said Caps head coach Billy McGuigan. “We have players from Little Pond to Montague, and all the way up to Tignish . . . It’s a pretty special opportunity to have so many Islanders and basically being a Prince Edward Island junior hockey team, and competing as well as we have.”
One fact McGuigan takes great pride in is how the Caps’ organization has been able to connect with, and give back to, local minor hockey teams. He is excited about this opportunity for young players to attend Thursday’s game.
“We have been on the ice 30 or 40 times with minor hockey teams this winter as far as myself, the other coaches and players,” said McGuigan. “We are on the ice, we are ingrained in the community of Summerside and to have the kids there to come to a game and support us is great.”
Fans will get to see two of the three top teams in the 12-team MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) do battle. The rebuilding Capitals are a surprising 25-14-1-0 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses), and sit second in the Eastlink North Division and third overall. The league-leading Blizzard, who was ranked 19th in this week’s Canadian Junior A Hockey League rankings, took a 28-8-3-0 mark into Wednesday’s road game against the Truro Bearcats (19-16-1-1).
“The big key for our hockey club with anyone we play is to keep it simple, move our feet and make sure we are on the right side of the puck,” explained McGuigan. “If we can do those things, and play with a lot of pace and speed, we usually have success.
“We are not the biggest team in the league and not the most skilled, but we do have skill and speed and we have a good puck-moving D. I feel our transition game is as good as any in the league.
“When the other team turns over a puck, we are on it quick and we are tracking back the other way. We are creating opportunities off our transition game. We are a quick team and if we don’t use our speed and work hard, we don’t have a lot of success.”
Caps forward TJ Shea, who has a league-leading 93 points in 40 regular-season games, will serve a one-game suspension against Edmundston. Shea was originally suspended for two games after receiving a major penalty for kneeing in Friday’s game against the Campbellton Tigers (19-15-2-1).
McGuigan explained the suspension was handed out because of an injury, but after the player Shea hit returned to the game, and played against Edmundston less than 48 hours later on Sunday afternoon, the Caps appealed. The Caps were informed on Wednesday that the suspension was reduced by one game, and Shea will be back in the Caps’ lineup for Saturday’s game at the Valley Wildcats (14-24-1-1).
Summerside Western Capitals’ game notes:
The Capitals are 16-4-0 (won-lost-overtime losses) on home ice during the 2017-18 regular season.
Dominik Tmej will get the start in goal for the Caps. In 16 regular-season games, Tmej has a 13-1 record, a 2.01 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.
Tmej recorded a 42-save shutout in the Caps’ 4-0 win over the Blizzard in the last head-to-head meeting between the two teams in Summerside on Jan. 25.
Capitals forward Kallum Muirhead will be back in the lineup after serving a five-game suspension.
Capitals defenceman Jesse Annear is listed as questionable for Thursday’s game, and is listed as day-to-day as he deals with an injury.
Prince Edward Islanders playing for Western Caps:
Jesse Annear, Montague.
Sebastien Cormier, Stratford.
Alex Hambly, Stratford.
Thomas Harper, Charlottetown.
Brodie MacMillan, Stratford.
Hunter McTague, Charlottetown.
Brodie MacArthur, Summerside.
Josh MacDonald, Cornwall.
Morgan MacDonald, Little Pond.
Kallum Muirhead, Charlottetown.
Cameron Roberts, Kensington.
TJ Shea, Anglo/Tignish.
Riley Smith, Charlottetown.
Jordan Spence, Cornwall.
Austin Taylor, Summerside.
Zach Thususka, Summerside.