“It’s going to be fun. It’s good to get out of the Maritimes and see some bigger, faster teams. It will be a good test for us to see where we are.”
- Wild forward Kalib Snow
The Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild will see some new competition this week.
The Wild left on Tuesday and will open play in the Major Midget Division of the CCM Challenge tournament in Chicoutimi, Que., on Wednesday. This is similar to the Monctonian AAA Challenge and the Chronicle Herald East Coast Ice Jam tournaments that are held in the Maritimes.
“You are going up there with no expectations,” said Wild head coach Kyle Dunn. “You want to see where you fit and it’s a great measuring stick.
“A lot of these kids make the jump right to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.”
The Wild were invited to this tournament for the first time last year. Kensington went 2-1 in round-robin play to become the first team from Atlantic Canada to qualify for the quarter-finals, before losing 7-3 to the Levis Chevaliers.
“We had a great team and got an invite after winning the (2018) Monctonian,” said Dunn. “We went up there with no expectations, just played our game and we ended up getting into the quarter-finals.”
This year’s edition of the Wild, which is second in the six-team New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League at 11-5-2 (won-lost-overtime losses), features a different-looking roster. The team lost 12 players off last year’s team – five to graduation and seven eligible returnees are playing either in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League or the Maritime Junior Hockey League.
“It’s going to be fun,” said second-year Wild forward Kalib Snow of Summerside. “It’s good to get out of the Maritimes and see some bigger, faster teams. It will be a good test for us to see where we are.”
Wild sophomore goaltender Josh Smith will also be attending his second CCM Challenge and said the biggest adjustment will be in the speed department.
“We will see some pretty fast teams out there that move the puck quick,” said Smith, 16. “They are fast and skilled.”
“We have to be quick moving pucks,” said Snow, 17. “It all starts getting your feet going and everything else comes after that.”
The Kensington Wild has been hit hard by injuries lately but could be getting three regulars back at the CCM Challenge tournament in Chicoutimi, Que.
Wild assistant coach Duane Richards said on Tuesday that defenceman Isaac Vos along with forwards Noah Griffin and Dixon MacLeod will be game-time decisions.
Richards added the Wild has called up forward Carson MacKay from the Mid-Isle Matrix of the P.E.I. Midget AAA Hockey League for the CCM Challenge.
There are other differences the Wild can expect, noted Smith.
“It’s a lot less physical, a lot more speed and a lot more systems,” added the Cornwall native.
Dunn said the coaching staff has been stressing a very clear message to the players.
“We are warning these guys that it’s fast up there and we can’t wait a period and a half, even 10 or 15 minutes,” said Dunn. “You have to be ready to go right from the opening faceoff and play fast.
“The game of hockey is still the game of hockey – you shoot the puck, you pass the puck but it all becomes quicker and quicker up there. Your timing and decisions and all that kind of stuff have to be quicker.
“We have been doing small drills to make your decision-making quicker, but it's going to be a real eye-opener for some of these guys.”
Kensington Wild round-robin schedule at CCM Challenge: At Chicoutimi, Que.
(All times Atlantic)
1:30 p.m. – Wild vs. Trois-Rivières.
2 p.m. – Wild vs. Laval-Montreal.
11:30 a.m. – Wild vs. Lac-St-Louis.