SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – It’s a partnership that is benefiting both parties.
Conor MacEachern brings three years of major junior experience to the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals, who were looking for a veteran presence on the blue-line.
So far, neither side could have asked for better returns.
“Not to jinx it, we haven’t lost a game since I’ve been here,” quipped the six-foot-four and 205-pound MacEachern, who is averaging a point a game in his first six contests since making his debut with the Caps on Sept. 29.
He described his first few weeks with the Caps “as a lot of fun” and added, “It’s a great group of guys.”
The son of Olympic bobsled gold-medallist Dave (Eli) MacEachern was born in Calgary, where his father was training at the time, but moved to Charlottetown at a very young age. He grew up and played minor hockey in the P.E.I. capital, and spent the last three years with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL).
“Conor has been a great addition,” said Capitals head coach Billy McGuigan. “He adds a perspective to our team we didn’t really have.
“Similar to Brodie MacMillan, he’s a big body, plays the game very physical, he’s strong, he makes a good first pass and defensively he’s aware.”
Asked to describe his style, MacEachern, who turns 20 in December, replied: “When I am playing my game I move the puck well, get up the ice and jump into the rush pretty good. I like to get shots off from the point and kill penalties, and do pretty much anything you need to do to help the team win.”
MacEachern, who played minor hockey with Caps’ third-year forward Kallum Muirhead, noted he was familiar with a number of his new teammates before joining the team.
“It was nice having a buddy on the team before I started,” added MacEachern, who registered 25 points in 185 regular-season and playoff games with Portland. “I played against pretty much all the Island guys growing up like MacMillan, (TJ) Shea, (Brodie) MacArthur and all the ’98 and ’99 birth years.”
To illustrate the respect the Caps have for MacEachern and his leadership abilities, they immediately named him an assistant captain.
“He’s stabilized our blue-line, and he adds a lot of leadership into our dressing room,” commented McGuigan. “He’s a great kid, he’s a vocal leader and says the right things at the right times. He’s a great teammate, and a great guy to have on our team.”
MacEachern acknowledges the Caps have a veteran team and a lot of leaders, and is looking to provide a stabilizing force on the ice.
“If things start to get a little run and gun I try to slow things down, keep it simple and play my game,” said MacEachern, who acknowledged he “definitely learned a lot” during his three years in the WHL.
Such as? “Just little teaching points in my game, and structure off the ice, how to act, how to be in the community and always treat your teammates, fans and everyone with respect,” explained MacEachern. “I played with and against some really great players, and learned a lot from playing with some of those guys.”
A look at Thursday’s Western Capitals’ game:
The St. Stephen Aces visit Eastlink Arena for a 7 p.m. start.
The Capitals, winners of seven straight games, are 8-2-0 (won-lost-overtime losses) and sit atop the Eastlink North Division of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League). The Aces (5-5-1) are five points back of the Caps.
This will be the third meeting of the regular season between the two teams. In the first two played in St. Stephen, N.B., the Aces won 9-6 on Sept. 21 and the Caps prevailed 6-2 on Oct. 12.
The Caps’ TJ Shea leads the MHL in regular-season scoring with 29 points – 14 goals and 15 assists. Linemate Brodie MacArthur is second with 22 points (7-15).
Rookie goaltender Daniel Thompson will get the start for the Capitals. Thompson has a 3-1 record along with a 2.26 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.
Zach Alchorn, the first overall pick in the 2018 MHL Entry Draft, and Leighton Holstein lead the Aces with nine points each.
Connor McGregor, a product of the Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride major midget program, is in his rookie season with the Aces. He has one assist in 11 games.