SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals now know their regular-season schedule for the 2018-19 MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) campaign.
One highlight includes half of the Caps’ home games at Eastlink Arena – 12 in total – will be played on Saturdays at 7 p.m.
“We are extremely grateful we were able to get more Saturday nights this year,” said Capitals general manager Pat McIver. “The numbers, in the past, show we draw better on Saturday nights, and we are fortunate there.
“We still have nine Thursday nights, and we strategically planned those around nights when there is no school on Friday, so hopefully we will still have good draws on those Thursday night games.
“We have the New Year’s Eve game and Islander Day game, too. We are quite pleased.”
Each of the 12 teams will play a 50-game schedule. Teams will play 24 home and 24 away games, along with two games at the league Showcase. Last year’s Showcase was held in Summerside, but McIver confirmed it will be held in a different market this year. The dates and location of this year’s Showcase will be announced later.
After opening with four straight contests on the road, the Caps’ home opener is slated for Saturday, Sept. 29. The defending-champion Edmundston Blizzard will provide the opposition in a rematch of last spring’s seven-game Eastlink North Division final.
“We are a couple of weeks behind everybody else in terms of our home opener, but that’s OK,” acknowledged McIver, who noted season tickets are on sale at the Credit Union Place box office. “There’s a lot going on at Credit Union Place in September.”
One positive, however, noted McIver, is it allows the Caps to get three long road trips out of the way early. The Caps open in Bridgewater, N.S., against South Shore on Sept. 14, and play in Yarmouth, N.S., the following night. The following weekend the Caps are at St. Stephen on Sept. 21 and Miramichi on Sept. 23.
The Capitals will play teams in the Eastlink South Division once home and once away while playing an unbalanced schedule within their own division.
“Our three closest games are against teams in the other division – Amherst, Truro and Pictou County,” said McIver. “It’s kind of too bad we only get to play them one home and one away.”
The Caps’ bus will put on its fair share of miles travelling to play division foes, including four games at St. Stephen and Miramichi, along with three at Grand Falls, Edmundston and Campbellton. As a result, the Caps are scheduled for six over-night stays during the regular season.
“With Woodstock moving to Grand Falls and Dieppe now in Edmundston, the travel is getting harder and it hasn’t gotten any easier for us,” said McIver. “We think we strategically planned it out.
“We are going to have more nights on the road where we are staying in hotels. In our division we have to put on the most miles. We are happy with the schedule in that we can get some of these games as over-nighters, and not be making special trips just for one game to Grand Falls and Edmundston. It is costly though.”
Highlights of Western Capitals’ schedule:
The Capitals will play 24 home games at Eastlink Area – 12 on Saturdays, nine on Thursdays, two on holiday Mondays and one on Wednesday. The Caps will also play one home and one away game as part of the MHL’s Showcase to comprise a 50-game schedule.
After hosting their home opener on Sept. 29, the Caps will play five home games in October, three in November, three in December, five in January, five in February and two in March.
The Caps will host the Valley Wildcats on New Year’s Eve at 5 p.m. The Caps will continue hosting a game on Islander Day as the South Shore Lumberjacks visit for a 2 p.m. start on Monday, Feb. 18.
The Caps conclude the regular season at home against the Campbellton Tigers on Saturday, March 9.
The Caps’ longest stretch between home games will be a three-week stretch. After hosting Campbellton on Dec. 8, the Caps will not play at home until Dec. 31.
The Caps’ home schedule is spread out very well. There are no back-to-back games at Eastlink Arena, and the Caps only play two home games in a three-night span twice.