SUMMERSIDE — A five-game winning streak has moved the Summerside Western Capitals to within one point of top spot overall in the 11-team MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League).
The Capitals’ 3-2 victory over the Yarmouth Mariners on Sunday afternoon improved the team’s record to 16-3-2-0, good enough for 34 points. The league-leading Truro Bearcats (17-3-0-1) have 35 points. Truro has lost three of its last four games, including back-to-back home contests to Yarmouth (5-2) on Saturday night and Miramichi (3-1) on Sunday evening.
Before 1,060 fans at Eastlink Arena, the Mariners certainly didn’t look like a team playing its fourth game in less than 96 hours. The Mariners put in a solid 60-minute effort, and certainly gave the more-rested Capitals all they could handle.
“They (Mariners) got a big win against Truro last night, so we kind of expected them to come out firing,” said Capitals forward Jon Aubertin. “I didn’t think they would come out that strong, especially after four games in four nights.”
Aubertin scored his team-leading 13th and 14th goals of the season to lead the Caps. Chris Caissy also scored while Mitch Maynard, Thomas Stavert, Dale Deon and Justin Rasmussen added assists.
“It was a pretty fast-paced game,” assessed Aubertin. “They (Mariners) came out hitting, and we had to adjust pretty good. We played a pretty good team game, and it paid off.”
Aubertin opened the scoring at 8:43 of the first period as Stavert, positioned on the right wing, found an open Aubertin in the slot, and he made no mistake making a move to his right and sliding the puck past Yarmouth goaltender Travis Wilkins.
Josh Desmond’s power-play goal just over a minute later at 9:53 pulled the Mariners even.
Aubertin gave the Caps the lead for good at 12:48 of the second period. Mitch Maynard, deep in the left-wing corner, passed the puck to Aubertin, who made no mistake one-timing it past Wilkins.
“I just found a spot in the faceoff circle, Maynard drew a couple of guys towards him, dished it off to me and it was kind of a lucky shot going right between his arm and body,” said Aubertin, who had to leave the game briefly in the third period.
“I was just trying to turn around and my skate got stuck, and I kind of twisted my knee a little,” said Aubertin. “It was all right once I got walking around.”
Caissy’s goal at 14:02 of the second period gave the Caps a 3-1 lead, and proved to be the game-winner. Caissy faked a pass to his left and used traffic in front of Wilkins as a screen before firing the puck home on the glove side.
The Mariners answered right back with a goal by Colin Campbell at 17:31 to close out the game’s scoring.
Overall, the Caps outshot the Mariners 27-24, and the shots-on-goal totals were even 16-16 after 40 minutes. Jacob Riley earned the goaltending win.
“I am pretty proud of the boys,” said Mariners head coach and general manager Laurie Baron. “Four games in four days is tough at any pace, but with travel and playing against Truro, a tough hockey club, last night (Saturday), I thought we had a pretty good effort all in all.”
Referee Wayne Doyle called five minors and one checking-from-behind game misconduct against the Capitals. The Mariners received four minors and two 10-minute misconducts.
The game’s three stars were:
1. Jonathan Aubertin (Caps), 2. Christopher Caissy (Caps), 3. Dale Deon (Caps).
The Caps’ next home game is against the Pictou County Weeks Crushers on Sunday at 2 p.m.