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There will be Summerside representation at Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sydney, N.S.
Just how good are the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals?
They are the class of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) with a very impressive 32-5-1 (won-lost-overtime losses) record going into Friday night's game in Grand Falls, N.B. They are the third-ranked junior A team in the country and, to my knowledge, that is the highest ranking this team has ever received in the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
The Caps finish the 2018-19 regular season four weeks from Saturday on March 9th. They have 11 more games during that stretch, including games in Edmundston, N.B., on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The three games in three days will the toughest part of their remaining schedule, which includes six of their last nine games on home ice.
The Caps will win their division and, barring a slump, should finish first overall in the league to earn home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Caps are solid in every department, with lots of depth on both offence and defence, to go along with the best goaltending tandem in the league. They have six players with major junior experience, and 11 Island-born players.
The favourable remaining schedule should allow for plenty of rest and time to get playoff focused for what should be an extended post-season run.
The MHL champion will be going to the Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian championship the first week of May in Amherst, N.S. The winner of the Fred Page advances to the RBC Cup in Brooks, Alta., later in May.
It sure looks like Caps have a good shot at being that Eastern Canadian representative.
Brodie MacArthur is having a great season for the Caps. He leads the MHL in points and, barring injury, will win the league scoring race. The six-foot MacArthur, who is soon to turn 20, has a 19-point lead on teammate TJ Shea, and is in the midst of a 19-game point streak. He was the MHL's player of the month for January, and is averaging just over two points per game with 33 goals and 50 assists in 38 games.
MacArthur gets his scoring prowess honestly as his father, Rodney, was one of the best players to ever play for the Charlottetown Abbies, and he put up big offensive numbers. Brodie’s grandfather, Ronnie, was also a fine player playing community hockey in Tyne Valley. Known as Tyne Valley Ron, he put up big numbers for the old Clover Farmers’ teams in the 1970s.
The Scotties Tournament of Hearts Canadian women’s curling championship gets underway next weekend at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S. P.E.I. will be represented by Summerside native Suzanne Birt.
This will be the 10th Scotties for Birt, and the first after a two-year sabbatical from competitive curling. She will be flanked by teammates Marie Christianson, Meaghan Hughes, Michelle McQuaid and coach Mitch O'Shea.
Names like Rachel Homan, Chelsea Carey, Krista McCarville and defending-champion Jennifer Jones headline the 16-team event that runs from Feb 16 to 24th.
Jill Brothers skips the host Nova Scotia team that includes Summerside native and third stone Erin Carmody. It is always a great event to watch, and hopefully both P.E.I. and Nova Scotia play well.
The Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men's hockey playoffs start next week with two old rivals likely to meet in the first round. UPEI and Moncton have had some great playoff battles over the years and, pending the outcomes of this weekend’s games, should be opening-round combatants.
Last weekend’s brawl between Acadia and St. Francis Xavier brings to mind an ugly incident that happened in a Moncton-UPEI playoff series 23 years ago this month. The Panthers and Moncton were tied 2-2 with less than a minute to go in the first overtime, when a Tyler Ertel shot from the slot went in and out too quick for referee Brian Carragher to see.
After consulting with the goal judge, it was determined the puck went in the net, giving the Panthers the win. What ensued was bedlam on the ice of the Sherwood Sportsplex, now Cody Banks Arena, with several Moncton players attacking Carragher.
Five Moncton players were suspended for as much as five years, but they were later reduced. The incident drew national headlines, similar to last weekend’s brawl in Wolfville, N.S.
The Blue Eagles were a frustrated team that night after being on the short end of several questionable calls. No official should have to endure what Carragher received that night, but being there helped one understand why it happened.
Have a great week!
Joe MacIntyre is a local life insurance broker. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.