The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is heading into its final regular season weekend and there is much on the line for the P.E.I. Rocket and for its two leading scorers Ben Duffy and Josh Currie.
The Rocket finish their regular season Sunday afternoon at 3 at the Civic Centre against defending Quebec champion Saint John and a win will solidify a top seven finish and an extra home game in the opening round of the playoffs.
In addition, the scoring race is up for grabs as P.E.I.’s Ben Duffy and Halifax sniper Jonathan Drouin are tied for the lead with 104 points. Duffy’s team-mate Josh Currie has 101 points and an outside chance at the scoring crown, a sensational season whether he finishes on top or not. Drouin, who has played 20 less games, and his Moosehead team-mates finish the regular season in Halifax against lowly Cape Breton.
Monday night, the Rockets fan night awards dinner is set for 6:30 at the Rodd Royalty courtyard and there should be a great crowd. Ex-NHLer Troy Crowder will be guest speaker and I’m sure it will make for an interesting evening.
On Skinner’s Pond
On the university front, how about Skinner’s Pond hockey standout Jordan Knox winning the Dr Randy Gregg Award, the prestigious national award for the player in Canada best combining academics, hockey and community service. He’s a dandy. Gregg starred with the University of Alberta Golden Bears and later with Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers.
On the ice
Congratulations to the Summerside AAA peewees who captured the provincial championship last week in Pownal.
Summerside edged West Prince Warriors 3-2 in one semi-final game while Charlottetown downed Matrix 4-1 in the other. In the final, Summerside dumped Charlottetown 5-3 to earn the right to represent P.E.I. at the Atlantic championships later this month in Newfoundland. The Charlottetown team looked great in their semi-final win and I was impressed by the play of Tom Harper (#2), Scott’s boy. And although small, he showed great skating skills and he handled the biscuit like his dad Scott who starred in his junior days and was the captain of the Charlottetown Abbies. Harper and Tyler Hashmi (#4) were the shutdown pair in previous tournament games but obviously not in the championship game. Tom Casey (#12) stood out on the forward ranks and goaltender George Halliwell played very well in all the games that I saw.
I got the impression after the Sunday morning game that the city boys were packing their bags for Newfoundland, but I think the boys forgot to tell Summerside of their plans. OR maybe they did, before the game.
One team that is headed to Newfoundland and the nationals is the Pownal AA bantam girls who edged Kings County last week for the right to go to Mount Pearl, outside St. John’s in April. Some of Pownal’s top players include Amelia Jenkins (daughter of one of P.E.I.’s great hockey players Craig Jenkins), Nicole Gallant, Jessica Redmond and Samantha Higgins.
The Pownal AAA midgets knocked off Charlottetown Abbies 4-2 Wednesday to take their best-of-five series in four games and will now represent this province at the Atlantic regionals next week in Truro.
Congratulations to the coaching staff of Shawn Kelly, Nickel MacDonald and Sean Corcoran. In Maritime midget AAA play the Cornwall Thunder came from down 3-1 in games to upset Charlottetown in double overtime in the seventh and deciding game to take their best of seven series Thursday night. Quite a comeback!
The Summerside Western Caps start their Maritime Junior Hockey League playoffs this Sunday afternoon at 2 and let’s hope they go all the way. The Caps have a number of top university prospects. Spencer MacDonald, son of UPEI’s greatest ever defenceman Wilf MacDonald, played with Memorial Cup champion Saint John Seadogs and now is a standout with the Western Caps. Ex-P.E.I. hockey great Bill Weatherbie, one of the most astute judges of hockey talent in this region, told me last week that Spencer will be a star in the university ranks.
Another is Mitch Maynard who has developed into a top junior player under the guidance of head coach Bill McGuigan and his staff. Hopefully, UPEI has these two guys wrapped up for next season.
On the track
On the harness racing front, the breeding season is in full swing and we’ll continue with a peak at some of the stallions standing on the Island. Articulator who stands at Bruce Wood’s farm in Marshfield has sired the likes of 2012 standouts Touch of Lightning and Mr Thompson: Articulator is by Artiscape, an Adios line horse and matches nicely with daughters of Western Hanover (No Nukes) and Matts Scooter (Direct Scooter).
Carnivore (by Real Desire) stands at Windemere Farms, North Wiltshire, while Winfromheretohere calls Boyd Leslie’s farm in Crapaud home.
Coast to Coast Yankee is another Artsplace stallion and he stands at Bob Gordon’s in Elmsdale. Bob does a great job and always has the horses fit and ready.
Sad to report that the great sire Rocknroll Hanover had to be put down Thursday in Pennsylvania after struggling with colic. He’s a big loss to the breeding industry.
While there is no live racing locally, the simulcast schedule is heavy with racing from Wooodbine, The Meadowlands, Yonkers and Flamboro.
Warrawee Needy (Mark MacDonald) was second, beaten a neck in 1:48.4 last week in leg two of the Aquarius series and now he goes tonight from the rail in the $57,000 finale.
At Woodbine tonight, the $34,000 Preferred is the feature attraction, and Camas Fellow (D MacNair) is the early morning favourite with competition coming from Modern Legend ( Jack Moiseyev), No Bu (Jody Jamieson ) and Cool Rock (Anthony MacDonald).
Flamboro action goes this afternoon and all the ex-Islanders are in action.
Fred MacDonald’s column appears every Saturday in The Guardian