In the four years I have been here we have played tons of games against them and every game seems to be close, decided by only a couple of goals. They are a hard team to play against and they have a good defence.
- Brodie MacMillan
The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals have a chance to move closer to clinching a second straight regular-season title in the Maritime Junior Hockey League over the next four days.
The Capitals open a home-and-home series with the Campbellton Tigers at Eastlink Arena on Thursday at 7 p.m., and make a return trip to Campbellton, N.B., on Friday night.
“It’s a big weekend for us against a good team,” said Capitals defenceman Brodie MacMillan of Stratford. “We have to show them what we have and get ready for the playoffs.”
The Caps will also host the Truro Bearcats on Sunday at 7 p.m. Fans are asked to note that this game has been rescheduled from Islander Day (Monday, Feb. 17).
The Capitals sit atop the 12-team league’s overall standings at 35-6-2, good for 72 points. Summerside is nine points clear of the second-place Edmundston Blizzard (28-9-7).
If the Blizzard, who has 63 points, was to win all eight remaining regular-season games, the maximum point total they could achieve is 79. The Caps currently have 72 points and a minimum of eight points will clinch first overall and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
“We are in a peculiar situation as we are in first-place overall, nine points ahead of the team behind us, and we clinched a playoff spot almost a month ago,” said Caps head coach Billy McGuigan. “For our guys, our games are not meaningless, but they are becoming a little less all the time.
“We are looking forward to getting through the regular season and into the playoffs.”
Tied for third
A big four points are at stake for the Tigers (23-13-3), who are currently tied with the Fredericton Red Wings (24-16-3) for third place in the Eastlink North Division. In all likelihood, the third-place team will face Edmundston while the fourth-place team will draw the Caps in Round 1 of the playoffs.
“It’s one of those games that is important for both teams to continue to win and continue to progress throughout their season,” said McGuigan. “For us, it’s trying to get better every day.
“We are not looking at it as a home-and-home (series) against Campbellton or a big battle. This is late in the year and we are trying to continue to maintain our focus and do the little things.
“Play the right way is the talk right now and pay attention to our details as we get close to the playoffs. We want to make sure we are into these hockey games and we have a chance to win.”
MacMillan admitted the players are also looking forward to the playoffs.
“We have been working a lot on our playoff habits and that’s what’s going to help us,” said MacMillan. “We have to keep doing the little things and that’s what is going to get us there.”
The Caps have won three of the first five meetings with the Tigers this season. The home team has won all five games.
“In the four years I have been here we have played tons of games against them and every game seems to be close, decided by only a couple of goals,” said MacMillan, 20. “They are a hard team to play against and they have a good defence.”