SUMMERSIDE — Mitch Maynard came into the 2012-13 season with high expectations, and he didn’t disappoint.
The Summerside Western Capitals right-winger’s production, which was highlighted by consistency, also did not go unnoticed. Maynard was named the MHL’s (Maritime Junior Hockey League) player of the year late Thursday afternoon.
“It’s definitely a big honour, and something I have to be very thankful for the coaching staff and my linemates who helped me win it,” said the right-handed-shooting Maynard, who is from Cole Harbour, N.S.
Capitals general manager Pat McIver said Maynard is very deserving of the award, which was voted on by the league’s 11 teams.
“We are obviously quite pleased to have a player chosen for that award,” said McIver. “Mitch has been a pretty consistent player game-in and game-out for us all year. He plays all roles for us, penalty killing, power play. He’s been a big part of our team this year, and we’re pretty pleased.”
Maynard will also be the MHL’s nominee for Canadian junior A hockey player of the year award, which will be presented during the 2013 RBC Cup national championship in Summerside in May. The Caps are guaranteed a berth in the RBC Cup as host team.
The six-foot-one and 190-pound Maynard averaged 1.46 points a game while registering 70 points in 48 regular-season games. His offensive breakdown included 21 goals and 49 assists.
“Mitchell Maynard has been a tremendous player for the Summerside Western Capitals as a model of consistency all season,” said Capitals head coach Billy McGuigan. “Mitch played in all situations. He is a great shot blocker and has good speed. He leads by example.”
Maynard prides himself on being a well-rounded player.
“You have to be ready to go every night, and play on both sides of the puck,” added Maynard. “You have to be reliable in the D zone and killing penalties are things I take pride in.”
The Capitals traded forwards Ben Berisha and Brock Morrison to the Amherst Ramblers for Maynard’s MHL rights in August.
“I was extremely happy (to be traded to Summerside),” said Maynard. “It’s where I wanted to be.
“I have been fortunate to have been on some good teams throughout my junior career.”
Maynard, who turns 21 on April 29 and is in his final year of junior A eligibility, won a Memorial Cup with the Shawinigan Cataractes last season.
A part-time engineering student at UPEI, Maynard says he would like to play Atlantic University Sport hockey next season.
“Education is something I take seriously,” said Maynard. “The AUS league is very competitive, and it would be nice to end up there.”
But Maynard’s immediate priority is the MHL playoffs. The Capitals open the best-of-seven Roger Meek Division semifinal at Eastlink Arena on Sunday afternoon. The opening faceoff is set for 2 p.m.
“We are ready for playoffs, and it’s something we’ve really been looking forward to since about Christmas,” said Maynard. “With the guys we brought in at the deadline, we are pretty excited, feeling confident and ready to go.”
MHL award winners:
u Player of the year – Mitch Maynard, Summerside Western Capitals.
u Top goaltending tandem – Jacob RIley, Kevin Bailie, Western Capitals.
u Top scorer – Kyle Morrison, Truro Bearcats.
u Top defenceman – Rodney Mahoney, Yarmouth Mariners.
u Rookie of the year – Morgan Messenger, Yarmouth Mariners.
u Character award – Kody Orr, Amherst Ramblers.
u Community leadership award – Zach Shannon, Woodstock Slammers.