SUMMERSIDE — Affiliated goaltender Grant Grady of Freetown made a successful regular-season debut between the pipes for the Summerside Western Capitals on Sunday afternoon.
Grady turned in a 32-save performance to backstop the Caps to a 4-2 victory over the Bridgewater Lumberjacks, who were playing their third game in less than 72 hours.
“He (Grady) played real well,” assessed Capitals head coach Billy McGuigan. “A couple of rebounds he would like to have had back, but I thought he was real solid in the net, competed real hard for pucks and did a real good job for us.”
With Dylan McQuaid sidelined with the flu, Grady, who was backed up by No. 1 goaltender Jacob Riley, found out he was getting the start on Saturday night.
“I was pretty excited when I found out,” said the 17-year-old Grady, who plays with the Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers of the Island Junior Hockey League. “Pat (McIver, general manager) actually texted me to see if I could come dress, and then Billy texted me probably two minutes after that and told me I was starting that game.”
The win improved the Caps’ record to 23-6-2-0, good enough for 48 points atop the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) standings. The Caps are three points ahead of the Yarmouth Mariners (22-5-1-0) and Truro Bearcats (21-4-0-3), who are tied atop the Eastlink Division.
Before 1,339 fans at Eastlink Arena, Colton Parsons continued his steady play for the Capitals with one goal and two assists.
Another big story in the game was the Capitals’ penalty-killing units, which killed off all nine of Bridgewater’s power plays, including a pair of extended two-man advantages.
The Caps successfully killed off a 5-on-3 Bridgewater man advantage for a full two minutes late in the first period with the score tied 1-1. Then early in the third period, with the Caps up 4-1, Bridgewater missed an opportunity to get back in the game by failing to score on another two-man power play for 1:32.
“Our guys right now are committed to doing whatever it takes to block shots, and they work real hard on the penalty kill,” said McGuigan.
Chris Caissy opened the scoring for the Capitals at 11:15 of the first period, but Mitch Henneberry blasted the puck past Grady high on the glove side at 14:11 after some heavy pressure by the Lumberjacks as the first period ended in a 1-1 tie.
Defenceman Matt Kelly jumped into the play to give the Caps a 2-1 lead at 8:32 of the second period. Kelly drove to the net hard and redirected a pass by Parsons from the left-wing corner over top of Lumberjacks goaltender Billy Clarke.
Parsons, who was left all alone in front of Clark, then made no mistake one-timing a pass from behind the goal-line by an off-balance Caissy.
Thomas Stavert connected for a power-play goal at 17:32 to send the Caps into the second intermission in front 4-1.
Michael Crawley (1-1) banked the puck into the goal off Grady from a sharp angle behind the goal-line to make it 4-2 at 14:11 of the third period.
Wes Herrett, Jon Aubertin, Harrison Wood, Jason Seed and Justin Rasmussen also earned assists for the Capitals, who directed 34 shots at Clarke.