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HOT CORNER: Western Capitals’ success brings heightened expectations

Forward and team captain Brodie MacArthur became the all-time points leader of the Summerside Western Capitals’ junior A hockey team on Sunday. MacArthur scored two goals in the Caps’ 3-2 shootout win in Edmundston, N.B. MacArthur, who has 305 points, moved one point ahead of Jordan Knox.
Forward and team captain Brodie MacArthur became the all-time points leader of the Summerside Western Capitals’ junior A hockey team on Sunday. MacArthur scored two goals in the Caps’ 3-2 shootout win in Edmundston, N.B. MacArthur, who has 305 points, moved one point ahead of Jordan Knox. - Desiree Anstey

The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals are having quite a season. 

Their 23-4-1 (won-lost-overtime losses) record is the best in franchise history after 28 games, which marks the halfway point of the 2019-20 Maritime Junior Hockey League season. The Caps were the third-ranked junior A team in the Canadian Junior Hockey League this week and that stands as the franchise’s best-ever national ranking. 

The numbers are impressive and even more so when one considers 16 of the 21 Caps’ players have P.E.I. birth certificates. Six of those 16 are from Summerside, which is a lot as most years that number is three or less. Seven of those 21 players are rookies.  

The huge P.E.I. content must have those at Hockey P.E.I. pleased as it looks good on them as far as player development goes. It is a huge cost to operate a team in the Maritime Junior Hockey League, but having most of your team comprised of local players helps keep those costs down. 

There obviously is a lot of pride in the uniform as the Caps’ organization approaches its 40th anniversary as a franchise. Players are proud to put on the jersey of one of the best-run organizations in Atlantic Canada. 

However, being the third-ranked team in Canada comes with heightened expectations and anything less than a league championship this year will be a major disappointment. 

The Caps have had some good teams since their last championship in 2013, including teams many thought would have better success. This year’s team seems different and, hopefully, the Caps and their faithful fans will get that championship this spring. 

Dave Cameron

Dave Cameron, right, while coaching at the national junior hockey team development camp in St. John's in 2010. - File
Dave Cameron, right, while coaching at the national junior hockey team development camp in St. John's in 2010. - File

Dave Cameron is in his second season as head coach of the Vienna Capitals of the 11-team Austrian Hockey League. Cameron's Capitals sit in third place with a 12-6-2-3 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses) record for 43 points after 23 games. 

A regulation win is worth three points in this league, which explains the high point total with 12 wins. 

P.E.I.-born defenceman Mark Flood is a member of the Capitals. 

The EBHL is the top hockey league in Austria and also includes teams from the Czech Republic, Italy and Hungary. The Capitals lost in the league final last year. 

Good idea

Having three points for a regulation win in a hockey game sounds like a good idea. It should make for a better game as teams would go after those three valuable points in regulation time. 

It should also make for better divisional games as teams can put separation between themselves and a close divisional rival. I’m sure there are disadvantages but, without too much thought, I think it would be good for hockey and should be given consideration. 

Two points are awarded for an overtime or shootout win and a point is awarded for an overtime or shootout loss. 

Rivalry series

TOPSHOT - USA's Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (R) scores past Canada's Shannon Szabados during the penalty-shot shootout in the women's gold medal ice hockey match between the US and Canada during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung on February 22, 2018. - Postmedia
TOPSHOT - USA's Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (R) scores past Canada's Shannon Szabados during the penalty-shot shootout in the women's gold medal ice hockey match between the US and Canada during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung on February 22, 2018. - Postmedia

It does not get much better than women's hockey featuring Canada and the United States. The five-game Rivalry Series begins Saturday in Hartford, Conn., and continues on Tuesday night at the beautiful new Avenir Center in Moncton, N.B. 

Hockey Canada and USA Hockey teamed up for a three-game series last year and it was so successful that it was expanded to five games this year. 

Canada won last year’s series by 4-3 and 2-0 scores while the US won one game 1-0. After Tuesday's game, the series will resume in February in Victoria, B.C., and Vancouver, B.C., before wrapping up in Anaheim, Calif., on Feb. 8. 

There are still tickets available for Tuesday's game and Maritime fans don't often get to see this great rivalry between the world's two best female hockey teams. If you don't make it to Moncton, you can watch both Saturday’s game and the Moncton game on TSN. 

World junior hockey

Canada forward ( and Maritimer) Drake Batherson (19) celebrates his goal on Czech Republic goaltender Josef Korenar (30) as Czech Republic defenceman Jakub Galvas (23) looks on during second period semifinal IIHF World Junior Championship hockey action in Buffalo, N.Y. on Thursday, January 4, 2018. - Nathan Denette/Postmedia
Canada forward ( and Maritimer) Drake Batherson (19) celebrates his goal on Czech Republic goaltender Josef Korenar (30) as Czech Republic defenceman Jakub Galvas (23) looks on during second period semifinal IIHF World Junior Championship hockey action in Buffalo, N.Y. on Thursday, January 4, 2018. - Nathan Denette/Postmedia

This year’s world junior hockey championship starts on Boxing Day in the Czech Republic. Although Canada has a tough schedule, its four round-robin games will be great ones. 

Canada opens up on Boxing Day against the United States, followed by games on the 28th against Russia, the 30th against Germany and on New Year's Eve against the Czech Republic. All of Canada's games are 2 p.m. local-time starts, except for the game against Germany that starts at 10 a.m. 

Canada last won the gold medal in 2018 when it beat Sweden in the final in Buffalo. Finland beat the United States in last year's final in Vancouver. Canada finished out of the medals last year. 

Have a great week!

Joe MacIntyre is a local life insurance broker. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to joemacintyre18@gmail.com.

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